Hereford & Worcester

Girl to have US operation after NHS spinal surgery halted

Tomlinson family Image copyright Tomlinson family
Image caption Ella's father Steve said it was costing the family £140,000

A teenager is to fly to the US for life-changing spinal surgery after an NHS trust stopped offering it.

The family of Ella Tomlinson, 14, of Leominster, Herefordshire, who has curvature of the spine, are spending £140,000 on the trip and operation.

St George's hospitals trust, in Tooting, which previously performed vertebral body tethering (VBT), said it was on hold until health advisory group NICE had looked into it more.

The trust apologised for any distress.

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Ella has scoliosis, an abnormal twisting of the spine which is usually noticed by a change in appearance of the back, or one shoulder or hip being more prominent than the other.

Her father Steve said: "[We've been] resigned to the fact that we've had to cash pensions and remortgage in order to raise the money.

Image copyright Tomlinson Family
Image caption An X-Ray showing the curvature of Ella's spine

"But there's no option... She has to have it [this operation] before April or May when her spine stiffens up with age and she's no longer... able to have it."

Ella, who is to fly out at the weekend, said: "I just want it done, out the way, so I can get back to having a normal life."

St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in south London, said until recently it had offered certain patients the option of VBT surgery, but after discussions with NHS England and the British Scoliosis Society it was putting the procedure on hold.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is looking into it more, the trust said.

It added: "We are very sorry for any distress this decision has caused to the patients on our waiting list for this treatment."

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