Disabled woman from Sudbury angered after losing access to free podiatry treatment
A Sudbury woman, who is severely disabled, has been left dumbfounded over a decision to withdraw free healthcare, which she has received for more than two decades.
Linda Berwick, of Chaucer Road, had been receiving podiatry treatment – most recently at Sudbury Health Centre – since 1997.
When the appointments were cut by half, Mrs Berwick experienced a significant amount of discomfort and, after submitting a complaint to the health group, she was required to attend a consultation.
Following the review, the 69-year-old was informed that she no longer met the requirements of podiatry treatment on the NHS.
Mrs Berwick, who is blind, has partial hearing loss and suffers from cerebral palsy quadriplegia, relies on the service due to her condition and receives around-the-clock care at home.
“It affects both arms and legs, I can’t even reach my own feet, let alone my toes,” said Mrs Berwick, who was surprised by the suggestion that she should seek help from friends or manage the treatment herself.
“I can’t get anywhere near my feet, and in the past they’ve always said I must have my feet treated by a chiropodist because it’s risky if you get an infection,” she said.
To relieve muscle pain and spasms, Mrs Berwick receives regular acupuncture and massage treatment.
“When you have to do a lot of sitting in a wheelchair, it’s quite a painful experience,” she said.
Being denied free podiatry treatment will involve further expense, which could prove financially difficult.
“When you’re on a very tight budget, it’s a lot of money,” said Mrs Berwick, who provides informative lectures on issues surrounding disabilities at universities and colleges.
In 1989, she set up The Lin Berwick Trust, which provides holiday accommodation for people with disabilities along with their families or carers.
In 2003, Mrs Berwick was made a Member of the British Empire for her services to people with disabilities.
Steve Noble, Suffolk Podiatry manager and nail surgery specialist, said: “Suffolk Podiatry is a specialist service and long-term care is only available to those patients where there is a significant risk of foot health complications, such as ulceration or amputation, or where there is active foot disease.
“Access to the service is not determined by patients’ income, level of discomfort or ability to manage. The criteria is in line with national guidance and accepted best practice across the NHS in the Eastern region.
“Suffolk Podiatry does not offer a routine nail-cutting service – patients who cannot manage their nail-care should seek help from friends, relatives or the private sector.”