Funding row halts specialist epilepsy surgery at Birmingham hospital

Epilepsy sufferer David Knowles said he has been left in limbo after his operation was cancelled.

Life changing operations for epilepsy have stopped in Birmingham over the past 14 months because of a row over money, a surgeon has claimed.

One patient had his brain surgery cancelled less than two hours before he was due in hospital.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital apologised, saying the procedure is not currently commissioned by NHS England.

However, NHS England claims it is working with the hospital on plans to further develop the service.

David Knowles, 32, was due to undergo a procedure in April that could cure or significantly reduce his epilepsy.

Known as lesion resection, it involves inserting electrodes into the brain to detect electrical activity and carefully removing abnormal brain tissue.

Just 45 minutes after confirmation that he was to come into hospital, however, he was told that the operation had been cancelled.

In a letter to his GP, the surgeon Ramesh Chelvarajah wrote: "Due to funding and commissioning changes that have arisen with the advent of NHS England taking over from the old PCTs, the service has effectively been suspended since February of last year."

Football match

Mr Chelvarajah also told the BBC that he has a horrendous waiting list and if and when funding is agreed, it could take up to a year to work through the backlog.

The disagreement is over the tariff - the amount the trust gets paid for the operation.

Mr Chelvarajah said: "The tariff is still a football match between the trust and NHS England."

Mr Knowles, who is having more frequent and severe attacks because his medication is becoming less effective, has, according to the surgeon, up to an 80% chance of a complete cure.

The software engineer is bitter because it is the third time that he has failed to obtain surgery.

Aged 16, he was taken to theatre with a metal cage already implanted in his head, but the procedure was inappropriate. At 21, he was rejected as not suitable for surgery at the last minute.

"To have your hopes raised and dashed is hard," he said.

"I was told that surgery was pretty routine at the QE. Then all of a sudden to find out that it had been cancelled due to funding is pretty diabolical."

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said it had apologised to Mr Knowles for the cancellation of his operation and recognised that it had not met its usual standards of care.

It said that it was not currently commissioned by NHS England to provide this procedure as part of its epilepsy service, but is working towards being able to offer this in the future.

A spokeswoman said: "The Trust is in the process of finalising an agreement with NHS England to fund the capacity for 10 intercranial telemetry procedures per year at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham."

A spokesperson for NHS England said: "Although we cannot comment on individual cases, NHS England does routinely fund epilepsy surgery such as lesion resection and diagnostic work in line with our national specification for neurosurgery care.

"We are currently working with the hospital on their plans to further develop this service for the small number of patients each year with complex and specialised epilepsy needs

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Birmingham & Black Country



22 °C 15 °C

BBC Local Live

    Man 'shot in face' 11:04:

    A teenager is set to appear before Walsall magistrates today accused of shooting a man in the face with an air pistol, says West Midlands Police.

    The 17-year-old will appear this morning to hear claims he attacked the 36-year-old at the wheel of his car when he approached the junction of Milton Street and Bescot Street in Walsall yesterday.

    The driver − who is understood to have known his attacker − was released from hospital having had the pellet removed.

    News on the hour 10:56: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

    Twenty five leading Muslims from Birmingham and the Black Country have signed an open letter appealing to militants from the Islamic State group to release the British hostage, Alan Henning.

    We will have more on this story on BBC WM in the 11:00 bulletin.

    Recognise this man? 10:44: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    This man was captured on CCTV first trying to hide this piece of art inside his jacket, before resigning himself to trying to brazenly walk out of the gallery with it tucked under his arm.

    Thief leaves gallery

    Birmingham Police have asked for help to identify him. Watch the footage here.

    Halesowen updates 10:33: via Facebook

    Halesowen Town FC: Match highlights: Halesowen Town 1-1 Nantwich Town, please subscribe to the YouTube Channel! ‪#‎uptheyeltz‬

    High-tech pothole filler 10:17: Michelle Dawes Journalist, BBC WM

    I'm in Darlaston for BBC WM trying out the new high tech velocity patcher to fill potholes! Its being trialled here.

    Velocity patcher in action
    Naturism director admits downloading child porn 10:05: Birmingham Mail

    A British Naturism director and Birmingham swim club chairman has admitted downloading more than 120,000 child porn images.

    Brian Taylor, of Tamworth, was head of public relations for the UK's leading naturist group and was a leading figure with the Spectrum Swimming Club in Northfield, which hosts regular events for naked swimmers.

    Top headlines
    • Far right extremism: Attacks rise
    • Council chief: Wolverhampton scraps role
    • Listen live: BBC WM
    News on the hour 09:56: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

    At 10:00 we will hear how a queue's forming in Birmingham City Centre outside the Apple Store with people eager to get hold of the firm's latest iPhone 6 device.

    We will hear from one man who has been camping outside the Bullring since Tuesday. Listen live.

    Beards: Love them or loathe them? 09:28: Kevin Pashby Journalist, BBC WM

    Beards are back. Is facial hair the most outward show of manliness or just laziness? Do you love them or loathe them?

    Moustache and beard

    We're having a phone in on BBC WM this morning. Call the studio on 03453 009956 or text 81333 starting your message with WM, to have your say on from 09:30, or listen live.

    Second city outlet 09:15: The Business Desk

    Award-winning Indian restaurant group Lasan is to launch a second city centre outlet in Colmore Row.

    'Misty and cloudy start' 09:06: Shefali Oza BBC Midlands Today Weather

    There will be a misty and cloudy start to the day today across the region but it will warm up with sunshine breaking through this afternoon.

    Shefalia Oza delivers the weather forecast

    Temperatures could reach highs of 22C (72F) in Birmingham.

    News on the hour 08:57: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

    In the 09:00 headlines, an organisation recording attacks against Muslims says that the Trojan Horse affair, Rotherham child abuse scandal and beheading of hostages in Iraq has fuelled a four-fold increase in religious hate crimes since June.

    Listen live to BBC WM for more on this story.

    Lambert at Villa until 2018 08:42: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    News came in just after Local Live finished yesterday that Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has signed a contract extension until June 2018 following the club's unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

    Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert

    Read the full BBC Sport story here.

    West Midlands MPs' costs 08:32: Express and Star

    MPs' expenses and office costs came to more than £2.9 million in a year for 19 of them in the West Midlands, official figures have shown.

    Aston Bridge diversion 08:19: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    Drivers are being warned the A5127 Aston Bridge in Aston, Birmingham, is closed at Dartmouth Circus, because of structural inspections.

    It is affecting traffic in both directions. There is a diversion via Thomas Street.

    Visit BBC Travel for all the latest information.

    Chief executive steps down 08:08: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

    The leader of Wolverhampton City Council, Councillor Roger Lawrence, will be talking to BBC WM in the next few minutes about the fact Simon Warren is standing down as the authority's chief executive for health reasons.

    The plan now is for the council to scrap the £153,800 per year post and replace it with a managing director, with the position to be filled by one of three senior staff already at the Civic Centre.

    Good morning 08:00: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    Local Live is back for the day. I'm in the BBC WM newsroom bringing you the very latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for Birmingham and the Black Country.



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.