A WORCESTER solicitor has called for a treatment for a debilitating hand condition to be made available on the NHS after a problem he had suffered with for six years was solved with a single injection.
When John Wickstead of Lower Broadheath began to look into treatments for Dupuytren’s contracture, which caused his little finger to bend 45 degrees and pull his ring finger towards his palm, he was concerned he would face a complicated operation and a lengthy hospital stay.
He said the issue had affected his ability to carry out a range of tasks including holding a steering wheel, cutlery, getting things out of his pockets or gripping weights at the gym.
But when Mr Wickstead spoke to Anna Moon, consultant hand surgeon at BMI Droitwich Spa Hospital in Saint Andrews Road, she told him about the Xiapex injection, which has been available in Britain since 2011.
“It was amazing,” he said.
“I had been expecting an overnight stay in hospital and being unable to use my hand for weeks.
“Instead I made two quick visits to the outpatients department and my hand was back to normal within two days.”
Now he is asking why the injection is not available on the NHS.
“I made two 30-minute visits to hospital and that was it – my hand was back to normal," he said.
“I paid for my treatment but not all sufferers can afford to do that.
“It seems a shame that the injection can’t be available to everyone who needs it.”
Xiapex is the trade name for the enzyme collagenase clostridium histolyticum. The injection is available on the NHS in Wales as well as on a limited basis in Scotland, Devon and the North East, but was rejected in Cambridge and Peterborough on economic grounds.
The treatment involves an injection into a cord in the palm of the hand, which is broken down by proteins within the enzyme.
Ms Moon said the alternative to a Xiapex injection is an operation under general anaesthetic, which will make the hand unusable for up to six weeks.
“The injection takes no time at all and the next day the patient returns to the clinic where, under local anaesthetic, the finger is manipulated so that the fingers can be extended," she said.
“The hand can be used almost straight away and although there is some bruising and swelling, which usually subsides within a week, most patients are able to drive and use their hand in daily activities within a week.”
A spokesperson for Worcestershire's three Clinical Commissioning Groups - which are responsible for organising and paying for health services in the county - said they were currently reviewing treatment options for Dupuytren’s Contracture, including using Xiapex.