AN ARTIST who has spent years fighting for the right to corrective surgery following an operation, is to give a painting of her scar to the NHS, reports Ellie Hargreaves.

Diana Cosford, from Field Broughton, near Cartmel, had her appendix removed at Barrow’s Furness General Hospital in May 2003 but said she was horrified when she saw the “ugly” wound left behind.

Five years on, and with no sign of a follow-up operation to put right her disfigurement, Mrs Cosford has decided to “remind” health chiefs of her situation by giving them an oil painting of her scar, which she painted out of frustration.

“As soon as I saw the wound I knew something was wrong. In surgical terms they call it ‘bunched’. I can only describe it as having a big lump on one side and a cavity at one end. Even now when I walk it affects my hip and down my leg and I can’t wear any tight clothing because I have this big lump,” she explained.

At the time Mrs Cosford told staff of her concerns and was told to see how it healed. Six months on she was still unhappy and claims medics agreed that corrective surgery was needed.

However, five years on, and after exchanging a file full of correspondence with the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust that runs FGH, Mrs Cosford is still waiting for the go-ahead. She believes she has not been given the operation because she does not meet the NHS’s criteria of being under 18, obese, or clinically depressed.

“I haven’t heard from the complaints and litigation team (at the hospital trust) since October 2006 so I have sent them a Christmas card two years running to remind them I am still waiting.

“The idea of the painting came to me one morning and I loved doing it, it was an outlet for me and I actually felt much better once I had done it.

“The idea of giving it to the NHS is a bit tongue-in -cheek but I have been through this long, protracted procedure and don’t feel I have been treated very well. I would hate to think that other women are treated this way.

“I am not interested in suing anyone, I didn’t even want to complain because I am grateful for the care I received and the fact they saved my life, but I want it putting right.”

I have written to the chief executive of NHS Direct, telling him I would like him to have this painting because I would like someone to have it, not for it to be lost in a black hole like my letters seem to be.”

Tony Halsall, chief executive of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, said: “The trust has had intermittent communication with Ms Cosford since her operation in 2003 and it is regrettable that this issue has not yet been resolved. Her most recent letter was received on July 8.

“When the trust initially offered Ms Cosford the opportunity to discuss the matter with the consultant head of surgery she declined and we understand she then pursued other options. “It would be inappropriate to discuss confidential patient details with the media, however we do apologise that, due to an administrative error, an appointment was not made with the head of surgery following our last letter. Should Ms Cosford now wish to take up this offer we would be pleased to arrange an appropriate consultation as a matter of priority.”