INTENSE pain, swelling and difficulty in walking have led dozens of people in York and North Yorkshire to demand compensation following hip replacement surgery.

Many claim they are suffering frequent dislocations or excruciating pain resulting from metal-on-metal debris getting into their bloodstream.

Some can only walk with sticks; other symptoms include audible popping and cup loosening.

A York solicitor’s firm has taken up the cases of 50 people, 35 of whom are from North Yorkshire, with 22 receiving surgery at Clifton Park clinic in the city.

Pryers Solicitors in The Stonebow says all were fitted with products manufactured by US company DePuy Orthopedics Inc - the ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the ASR XL Acetabular System.

Both products were recalled last August by DePuy – the orthopedic arm of Johnson & Johnson – after being on the market for seven years.

This followed high numbers of complaints and high revision surgery rates for the device.

Dr Alastair Turnbull, medical director at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are aware there is an issue with this particular device, and that it has affected a number of patients in York. We are offering ongoing support and treatment to these patients.”

DePuy statistics show about 12 per cent of patients who had received the ASR resurfacing device and 13 per cent fitted with the ASR total hip replacement needed to have revision surgery.

A DePuy spokeswoman said that 9,600 ASR hips were fitted in the UK.

The high failure rates were detected in the UK national joint registry, the surgeons’ five year database. Problems listed included component loosening, misalignment, infection, bone fracture, metal sensitivity and pain.

“We therefore withdrew the two products immediately. We intend to give affected patients reasonable and customary costs of testing and treatment.

“That includes the cost of revision surgery if medically necessary. We will also compensate loss of wages, travel costs etc.”

Solicitor Richard Starkie, of Pryers, which specialises in medical injury compensation cases, said: “The first complaints were made by surgeons to DuPuy in 2008. Our understanding is that they were told by the company the fault was due to incorrect fitting. It was then more than two years before they announced their recall. The problems with the hip ought to have been foreseeable and should have been recognised and eradicated in the design and testing phase before it ever came on to the market.

“DePuy has offered to consider paying for private revision surgery and loss of earnings. A large number of our clients are retired. Their revisions will be done on the NHS so under DePuy’s scheme they will receive not a penny “But even those who have suffered a loss of earnings and had to pay privately would get no recognition, and therefore compensation, for pain and suffering they have already experienced and in many cases continue to suffer in the future. People are likely to get more compensation using the law than if they went along with the DePuy scheme, which would very significantly under-compensate people.”

Mr Starkie said Pryers was getting expert evidence about the product itself and would then investigate individual cases to determine the cause of the failure of their joints.

Why I’m worried for my future

SARA Starkey is only 32, but has already undergone a three-year saga of hip operations which is set to continue.

The legal assistant, who lives in Oakhill Street, York, has had hip dysplacea since birth.

She was given two new metal hips by surgeons at the Clifton Park hospital – then Capio – in Bluebeck Drive, both of which were products made by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc of the US, which have since been recalled.

One of them has now been replaced with porcelain components. The other is about to be.

Now Sara is claiming compensation along with 49 others through York law firm Pryers.

The original hips were implanted in 2007, after which terrible pain ensued that would halt Sara’s steps in the street and cause her to scream out in her sleep.

Then she discovered that she had chromium levels in her blood that were, in her words, “off the scale”.

“Doctors said that ions released from the metal-on-metal friction were building up in my muscles,” she said.

Now she is worried because she knows that there are only so many revised hip replacements that can be carried out, before it becomes technically impossible. Hips tend to last ten to 15 years.

“What will happen to me after that? I’m young enough to worry. Will I have to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair?”

Her partner, Ashley Tuckley, said: “Sara is no whinger and yet I have had to calm her when pain jolted her out of sleep. She seemed to be living on painkillers.”