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WALES: New heart valve is my best chance... but HCW won't pay; THE NHS POSTCODE LOTTERY.


A DAD-OF-TWO struck down by a heart attack on Christmas Day is being denied an operation that could save his life - because health bosses are refusing to stump up pounds 10,000.

Former Rhyl FC player Peter Jones is the latest victim of a postcode lottery that has seen Welshpatients denied vital treatment despite it being available on the NHS.

The 76-year-old has been told he cannot have pioneering keyhole surgery being offered to patients in England - because the Health Commission Wales says the technique is "unproven".

It comes as the Assembly government's presiding minister yesterday warned the gap would widen between the NHS in Wales and the UK Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas spoke after one of the most senior figures in the NHS management, Dr Gill Morgan from the NHS Confederation, declared England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were now operating four different health services.

She said while England was concentrating on cutting waiting times and offering patients more choice, Wales was focusing more on preventative measures - like introducing free prescriptions.

Meanwhile Scotland offered more free personal care, and NorthernIreland had more integration between health and social care.

Last night Peter Jones hit out after he got a letter from the HCW refusing to pay for him to have a new heart valve inserted through his groin at a hospital in Leicester.

The former Glyndwr High School caretaker suffers from aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of a heart valve which can lead to chest pain and severe breathing problems.

But he cannot have more traditional surgery to open up his chest because of a problem with the condition of his lungs, say consultants at Broadgreen hospital in Liverpool. Doctors referred him to a hospital in Leicester, where he would have received a new heart valve inserted through his groin - a procedure HCW's letter says is "unproven".

It comes just days after dad-of-two Timothy Davies from Mold died from leukaemia on Christmas Eve, after a row with HCW rover funding for his bone marrow transplant at Christies hospital in Manchester.

And in December cancer sufferer Samantha Cousins, 34, from Johnstown, revealed a wrangle over pounds 100,000 of funding for a bone marrow op in England have stopped her surgery going ahead on time.

Yesterday Mr Jones said: "I can't understand it - they said it is not proven, but if they will not fund the treatment, it can't be proven, can it?

"With a replacement valve, I could do so much more than I can now. I am prepared to have a go because it might work. It's the only thing that can work.

"I was brought up to believe the NHS was there to look after you and you could get anything on the NHS. I doesn't seem that is the case."

Peter's pleas are now being supported by Vale of Clwyd AMAnn Jones, who has now contacted HCW - currently under review for the way it operates and makes decisions - for answers.

Joyce Robins of Patient Concern said the differences between the four health services were "breeding envy".

But Lord Elis-Thomas, Dwy for-Meirionnydd AM, said: "Of course, there are differences because the legal responsibility is different.

"You have chief medical officers in each country and have had for years, and health ministers so it follows that the government elected in a different place will have different policies."

A HCW spokesman said they would not comment on individual patients.

Opinion - page 14


Peter Jones is the latest victim of "Postcode Lottery" after Health Commission Wales denied him a pioneering keyhole surgery offered to patients in England
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 3, 2008
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