DISGUSTED Christine Dunham has waited FIVE years for an NHS appointment - only to be told that doctors had no record of her.
The 39-year-old Batley woman was horrified to discover that her excessive wait to see a specialist had been in vain when hospital staff revealed she was no longer in the queue.
The married mother-of-three has waited in excruciating agony as she suffers with chronic back pain and a condition that has made her hands claw like and difficult to use.
She suffers without proper medication as is still awaiting specialist diagnosis for her condition, although early indication is that two of her vertebrae have been fused together.
The prolonged farce has also left her suffering from stress.
Mrs Dunham said: "I think this would try the patience of a saint. I know the NHS is under pressure and I was prepared to wait my turn, but to wait five years and then be told you now don't exist is unbelievable.
"Now I've got to start the whole process again."
Mrs Dunham, who has just recovered from breast cancer, first went to her GP in 1999 and was referred to a specialist at St James's Hospital in Leeds.
A few weeks later the housewife received a letter to tell her there was a waiting list of just over a year.
The letter read: "Unfortunately more patients are referred each week than it is possible to see and currently there is a delay of approximately 58 weeks before patients can be seen in clinics.
"We shall send you notification about four weeks before the date of the appointment."
When after a year no second letter had arrived, Christine and her husband Wayne, 40, contacted the hospital.
They were then asked to be patient and were told an appointment would be fixed in due course.
Over the subsequent years Mrs Dunham was told that her consultant had left and later that he had not left at all.
Meanwhile, her GP was unable to refer her again because she was supposedly "already in the system".
Now Mrs Dunham has chased up the appointment and was disgusted to be told she was not on the computer and there was now no record of her at all.
She said: "All the time my condition gets worse. People complain when they have to wait three months for an appointment, they should try five years."
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St James's, said: "The Trust has no record of a referral from Mrs Dunham's GP, but we will be contacting her directly to discuss her situation.
"There are a number of reasons why she may not be appearing on our waiting lists and we will need to investigate this further."