The number of people waiting for medical treatment and surgery in England has climbed to almost 3.9 million.

The NHS Constitution guarantees that hospitals will treat 92 per cent of patients on the ‘referral-to-treatment’ waiting list within 18 weeks, but recent reports show that this target is not being achieved.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) can fund treatment or surgery for Freemasons and eligible family members who face a wait of 12 weeks or longer, or eight weeks for heart surgery, who can’t easily afford private treatment.

Eligible family members include a Freemason’s married, life or widowed partner and his children or grandchildren who are under the age of 25 and in full-time education.

Chloe’s story

NHS wait: 18+ weeks
MCF wait: 4.5 weeks*

“Dancing is all I have ever done. I’ve had many injuries over the years but I never had to stop doing what I love. Then, two years ago, I woke up in agony in my left foot – I tried to walk and fell to the floor. The doctors carried out lots of tests and scans and eventually I was told I needed an operation.

“In the meantime, I had been granted a full scholarship to Urdang – the best dance school in the country. I went to see Urdang’s physiotherapists but they didn’t know what was wrong and sent me home because I couldn’t dance. I was forced to leave the school but was hopeful that I would be able to recover and deferred my place for a year.

“I waited and waited for a date for the operation but months passed and I heard nothing. The consultant said my best bet would be to go private but we couldn’t afford it. My injury took a toll on everything I love. I thought it was the end of my dream.

“Then, the Almoner from my dad’s lodge put me in touch with the Masonic Charitable Foundation. I had my operation earlier this year. The prognosis is that I will be able to dance again and I hope to rejoin Urdang next year.”

Bill’s story

NHS wait: 26 weeks
MCF wait: 6 weeks*

“I had trouble with my eyes for a long, long time. I was diagnosed with cataracts but there was a very long waiting list at the hospital – they said it would be at least six months and, to be honest, at the age of 85 I wasn’t sure I would last that long.

“Since my wife, Nancy, died, I’m on my own which I find very difficult. My computer is my way of keeping in touch with the outside world but eventually my cataracts meant I was unable to use it. I also use my computer to run a website featuring stories about my 39 years in the British Army.

“I was Almoner of my lodge for many years so when I realised I needed support, I got in touch with the MCF directly. I had my operation earlier this year, almost straight away after I applied. I made a small contribution towards the cost from my savings and the MCF paid the rest.

“The operation has made a huge difference! I’m now able to use my computer again. If I could say anything to the Masonic Charitable Foundation I would say ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!’ The help they have given me is without equal.”

Alan’s story

NHS wait: 26 weeks
MCF wait: 3 weeks*

“I had arthritis in my knees for two or three years and it was getting worse. The consultants told me I needed a knee replacement; I was put on a waiting list but heard nothing for months.

“The constant pain was exhausting. I had lots of trouble carrying out my Almoner’s duties and I couldn’t stand up in lodge to give my report. I couldn’t decorate the house, I couldn’t do my gardening. I was in pain all of the time and the painkillers made me feel sick. My whole life came to a standstill.”

“I’ve been lodge Almoner for over three years but was reluctant to ask for help for myself at first. I’m glad I did because a grant to fund my operation and physio was agreed within a matter of weeks.”

*MCF wait is calculated from grant approval date

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