When Rebecca Ward, 44, developed acute back pain that stopped her from sleeping, sitting comfortably, going to work – or even walking very far – she faced a three-week wait for physiotherapy treatment on the NHS.
The mum-of-two was also struggling to look after her young daughters.
“I had been to see my GP several times and finally got a referral.” she says. “But the thought of having to wait so long for treatment was awful. I honestly didn’t know how I would cope with the pain.”
Fortunately, Rebecca, from Daventry, had joined Benenden Health 12 months earlier. As a mutual, not-for-profit, society, benenden has been voted the UK’s most trusted healthcare provider in the Moneywise Awards for the past two years. Benenden assesses the needs of its members using compassion and experience to find the best way to help, as quickly as possible.
“My grandmother had been a member for year and had me covered, too, but I let it lapse” she admits. “Thankfully though, I got round to sorting out membership in my own name and was able to call on them for help when I needed it most.”
Back home, Rebecca called Benenden Health for advice. They listened to the impact her back pain was having on her life and agreed funding that would allow her to be seen by a private physiotherapist later that same day.
It was a timely intervention. After just two appointments Rebecca’s physiotherapist expressed concern that her pain was not diminishing rapidly enough and asked her GP to refer her for an urgent MRI scan.
“Once again I faced a wait on the NHS – it would take at least six weeks for me to get the test,” says Rebecca.
“By now I couldn’t drive and hadn’t had a proper night’s sleep for two weeks. I wasn’t able to look after my own children. It was very distressing for us all.
“I explained this to Benenden Health, which came up trumps by paying for me to have the MRI scan privately.”
The scan showed that Rebecca was suffering with a prolapsed disc in the thoracic spine that was compressing the spinal cord and pressing on the nerve root. She was referred to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, and her physiotherapist contacted the hospital directly to push for an emergency appointment.
By now Rebecca was losing the feeling in her legs and feet and had shed 10lbs in weight.
Her surgery took place in December 2011. Rebecca is now well on the road to recovery. According to her consultant, without the operation she would eventually have become paralysed.
“Without the intervention of Benenden Health I would have carried on in intense pain and potentially done more damage.
“It was so refreshing to be looked after by an organisation that was able to use its discretion and look at my needs as a person rather than just someone else passing through a system.
“It really is a life-changing organisation and I’m still counting my blessings that I made the decision to become a member in the first place.”
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