Hi Guys, I have been reading a lot of posts lately about MRI s , I was wondering how long you have to wait to get one done in the UK, and also to see a pain specialist. I emigrated 11 years ago to Australia (perth) and have quite a few problems with my back, I have been in hospital 6 times with acute on chronic pain, with no problem getting seen , if my Dr orders a MRI I can go to the nearest hospital and get one done that day, I see my pain specialist at least once a month. Why do I want to know myself and my husband are moving back to the UK , so I can be with family for a year or two, and I can't imagine waiting so long for an appointment. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks in advance Terri

33 Replies

  • Answer to both questions long is a piece of string??

    It really is a postcode lottery and you may strike lucky. Can you say roughly which part of UK you are coming to?

    My advice? Stay in Perth!

    We recently emmigrated to Tenerife from Scotland where we had a wonderful pain team


  • I'm originally from South Wales (Cardiff) I cannot believe how long everyone waits for an appointment, can the Dr prescribe schedule 8 drugs and ketamine? Would they be easy to get ? As I need these for chronic pain 😫

  • I found these guidelines for acute pain management from Cardiff -

  • Just checked what is on the schedule 8 drugs list. From my experience it is much easier to get prescriptions from GP in the UK for things like cocodamol and other codeine based drugs and tramadol that it was in New Zealand. Also the SSRI and SNRI drugs are prescribed by GPs very frequently. I don't think you will have too much problem with those especially if you can bring a letter from your current pain specialist detailing what you are currently taking.

  • Oh thankyou for taking your time to look into that for me cheers

  • I get Melamine for chronic pain from my pain management specialist but she is great, it depends on what the doctor is like that you see.

  • Sorry autotype put in melamine it should say Ketamine

  • I had shoulder problems for 10 months before they sent me for a mri. Had numerous other tests before then though. Good luck x

  • OMG I can't believe it , I thought the NHS would be better than the Australian system 😫

  • Apparently it's just the process you have to go through. You can't just ask for a mri. Doctors should provide you with decent medications though to get you through the waiting process. Suppose each practice differs though. I'm in the north East x

  • I cant imagine being in the UK with no pain meds , I wouldn't be able to get out of bed

  • What meds do you take now if you don't mind me asking. I have been give numerous medications to try and took a while to find something that worked without problems. Living with chronic pain is a nightmare x

  • I take bupemorphinepatches, deloxatine, panadine forte, Celebrex, diazepam, clonadine, bupermorphine tablets S/L for break through pain ,I have been on so much pain meds that a lot of them made me nauseous, or sick, 😫 Seeing the pain specialist again on Friday, to see what the next step is , 4 weeks ago I had 8 steroid injections 2 nerve blocks and an injection in my Cocci , but sadly it all didn't work.

  • Oh my your poor thing. That's alot of medication. Hope your pain specialists can help.. I've tried numerous aswell and sadly the terrible side effects make me stop taking them. Good luck for Friday xx

  • Different, not necessarily better or worse.

    The thing with musculoskeletal problems in the UK, is that most of the guidelines assume first that it is just some kind of strain that will pretty much get better on its own (because something like 85 percent of people going to a doctor with back or joint pain will get better without any real treatment). So you are really unlikely here to get immediate xrays or MRIs unless they have strong evidence that it could be a fracture or something more serious. Also, MRI guidelines in most regions are quite clear that you don't do MRIs as a first line investigation, and that they are best left to be ordered by specialists. In 85 percent of cases that conservative approach works. I think other countries are a wee bit better sometimes at differentiating in the early stages who needs more aggressive investigation or treatment.

    Its swings and roundabouts when you try to compare health services in different countries. One thing you will get in Wales and Scotland (though not in England at the moment) is free prescriptions, which doesn't happen in many other places.

  • I had to wait somewhere between two and three months for an MRI, but that was after waiting nearly 8 months for a follow up rheumatology appointment (as GPs generally aren't meant to order MRIs and the request has to come from a specialist). Our area is particularly bad for rheumatology appointments though.

    My initial pain specialist appointment probably took a couple of months to come through, but once on the pain specialists books I can usually phone up and get an appointment within a couple of weeks.

  • Do you know if this is the same all over the UK cheers

  • Probably not exactly the same. If you want to look at a specific area, maybe try looking at the reviews on the patientslikeme website.

  • I got three done within two weeks on private healthplan for free- apart from the annual cost! This is in Ireland.

  • The NHS is creaking under the strain. MRIs can take weeks or even months depending on how urgent the specialist thinks it is. Sometimes you have to undergo treatments like hydrotherapy and physio before you are assessed as severe enough. This can also take weeks or months, depending on how busy they are and how long the waiting list is. They are doing their best and once you get through the system, the outlook is generally good, but things are definitely going downhill.

    If you are getting superb treatment in Oz, I think I would only come back for short visits.

  • I think my treatment is fantastic now compared to the UK, just need my family around me for a bit , their are days I can't get out of bed , and then I have great days , I can't win 😪

  • Sorry Terri 19. If your looking for a quick fix on the N.H.S. you are in for a shock! over worked and under funded in relation to numbers going up all the time, they have waiting targets I don't know why? very rarely met a pain sufferer of all joints for more than 45. years, it takes months sometimes well over a year from a visit to the Doctor to getting a final result. That is the reality of things. Hermes123.

  • I think I was , but it sounds like I might. E better here , although I need my family around me for a few months cheers anyway for taking time out , your a star

  • The last thing we want to do is to put you off returning to the UK. I have a friend in Queensland he is chomping at the bit to return now, he know the health situation over here and said the same as yourself about walking into the Doc's and everything you need is ordered up for you right away, you have to go with your heart as what is the best thing for you. So good day Cobba.

  • Sorry Terri, the NHS waiting list is incredibly slow moving. Even with extra letters from your GP, you can wait for 6/12 months for an MRI and I waited 14 months for an appointment with the pain clinic 😟 I live in Merthyr Tydfil now having recently moved from Rhondda Cynon Taf, I paid privately for my MRI as even being on the emergency waiting list, I was in too much pain to wait. The waiting lists are multi level and unless you really push your GP, you don't even get onto the higher level one. I rang the pain clinic virtually every week to try and hurry it up, asking for cancellations etc but still couldn't get in earlier. The NHS in Wales in particular is struggling massively so don't expect anything similar to Perth here, not a chance unfortunately 😓

  • How do you manage without pain meds if you run out , or have a flare up , I'm sure I wouldn't cope ,

  • All the pain meds etc are managed by my GP, they'll see you within a week usually and often sooner if you're desperate, a good relationship with the practice helps a lot too. You can also ring first thing in the morning to get an emergency appt if you need one. You'll have your regular meds prescribed with a 'repeat prescription' which means that a week before you're about to run out, you put the form in and your meds will be automatically represcribed for you, no need to ever run out. Didn't want to upset you but it is a realistic picture of NHS waiting lists in Wales unfortunately, your experience in Australia is what we Welshies dream of!

  • You mentioned Fibromyalgia in a previous post and chronic pain above, terri19.

    I wrote to you before.

    Please pop your same post (question) up on 'Thyroid Uk,' here on Health Unlocked.

    Both Fibromyalgia and Chronic pain are 'listed' symptoms of Hypothyroidism and vitamin B12 deficiency, often go hand in hand. Also you can often be low in vitamin D and iron, feritin and folate too.

    I had fibro all over pains/chronic pains now all gone, (once optimally medicated with Thyroid medication) Many patients are being over looked or missed and left to suffer, this is well known in the thyroid world.

  • I waited 4 years for an MRI, I was diagnosed with a disc bulge and nerve impingement. They still won't operate 5&1/2 years on. I am under pain management, they only see me once every 6 months. They don't do much to help, just want me to accept a low quality of life. I firmly think it is lack of funding and ignorance of surgeons who don't understand what it is to live in pain. If I could move from this country I would, I no longer have much faith in the NHS.

  • I have to add to the above, I have been tested for everything else, and I mean everything. I am a very health 43 year old, don't drink, smoke or take drugs. Eat healthy, walk every day. But the pain from a cervical disc bulge ruins the quality of my life, it is hard to explain to someone who can't feel what you feel. But I plod on, don't work, don't drive. I still love my life, but want the has gone on too long.

    Tried most drugs, talking therapy, nerve block injections, epidural, massages, chiropractor, physio 5 times, inversion table, dozens of exercise programs, acupuncture etc...

    I do gentle yoga and pilates, meditate, use tens, walk and take supplements and stick to a Mediterranean diet. I try and stay positive, enjoy the life I have, but it will never be easy. I see people who have had the surgery and they say it was the best thing they ever did. These people include my dad, mother in law, pilates instructor, friend and those I chat to online.

    Sad that almost all surgeons working for the NHS tell a different story, one where you fear surgery, one where it doesn't work, or makes you worse. Yet I meet people all the time who have had surgery, all say it is hard, but eventually you see the benefits. None of these people waited as long as I have. I have no job, no pension, and a worryingly bleak future financially, never mind physically. But the NHS don't want to help me, perhaps I am in a postcode where surgery is for the rich? I just cannot understand why I am left I this pain when everything has failed to relieve my symptoms. But I am not the only one, so I have that to make me feel a little better. No one wants to feel they are treated unfairly.

  • OMG I really feel for you, is their a council or omnibus you could write or go to to . It's so unfair you are treated like this, you must be in agony, I have done everyyou have done , and I'm getting so much more support here in Australia, I just wish I could do something to help , I'm so sorry a gentle hug ,and try to keep smiling Terri

  • The wait for an MRI has been reduced quite a bit to about 3 weeks but the wait to see a neurologist is about 6 Months and the wait to see a neurosurgeon is about the same but then if you need any treatment it's another 6 months at least. There is a chronic shortage of neurosurgeons in the UK nationally but the dates I have given you are for Northumberland and it varies all over the country, so it depends on where you move to. Hope this helps.

  • Hi normal mri scans do not show everything if you are stationery alothe is missed . I know this myself as I have had a bad neck and spine for nearly four yrs . I went to tampa America and got a digital motion x-ray . This found I had 8 damaged ligaments wit hin minutes also my jaw had been pushed out of place and my c1 moves over my c2 which rubs and causes me agony when I move and twist or lean .all from whiplash. Look up digital motion x-ray the place in America is called Nu best it's worth a look there may be someone near that can help . Good luck xx

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