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Letters NHS has let me down.

For Welsh Health Minister Jane Hutt to say that nobody should wait longer than 10 months for a cardiac operation is yet again another of her distortions of the truth.

She should have added that it takes up to two years to first see a cardiologist and to have all the necessary tests BEFORE you are placed on her 10-month waiting list.

You don't have to be a mathematician to work out that this can mean a wait of two years, 10 months before treatment.

I know because I have been there.

In May 2002 I was diagnosed as having an enlarged heart and needing a heart valve repair.

Having waited many months to see a cardiologist on the NHS I decided to go privately and last November, I was told my condition had deteriorated even further and I needed a mitral valve replacement and also a quadruple heart by-pass.

In February this year I was told the waiting list for this treatment was 10 months but in the meantime I was likely to have a heart attack or a stroke.

The cardiologist suggested it would be better for me to have the treatment privately.

I agreed. I was not prepared to take the risk of a damaging heart attack.

Surprisingly, and despite the so-called shortage, a bed was found for me in weeks and I have subsequently had a quadruple by-pass, a mitral valve replacement and a pacemaker fitted. It has cost me pounds 15,500 of my life's savings.

Other patients on the cardiac ward at the University of Wales Hospital at the same time, had also paid privately for their treatment.

So we, not Jane Hutt, have reduced the waiting list - I wonder how many others have died while waiting or have had damaging heart attacks or strokes.

What really adds to my frustration is that having worked as a journalist for 48 years, I have contributed more than pounds 250,000 in income tax and national insurance and never made a claim on the State.

The National Health Service let me down when I needed it.

Gareth Jenkins

Cae Nant Gledyr, Caerphilly
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 10, 2004
Words:356
Previous Article:Letters Lessons should be learned.
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