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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Funding for brain ops is stopped
Scan of a brain
Deep brain stimulation was first used in 1998
Health officials in Wales have stopped funding an operation which helps treat people with brain disorders like Parkinson's disease.

Health Commission Wales (HCW) said deep brain stimulation (DBS) was not cost effective and at the moment was of low priority.

DBS, which stimulates deep parts of the brain with electric currents, costs up to 30,000 per patient.

The operation is available for patients living in England.

When introduced in 1998, DBS was hailed as the most significant advance in the treatment of Parkinson's for more than 30 years.

According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), DBS involves inserting fine needles into the brain through small holes made in the skull and attaching a permanent electrode.

Patient Gwyn Dodd found funding for his DBS treatment at Frenchay hospital in Bristol refused by HCW.

Fine needles

"We were very excited because we understood it had been done very successfully," said Mr Dodd's wife Cynthia, from Pontardawe.

"I don't see why someone living this side of Offa's Dyke should be treated completely differently from some one in England and Scotland and Northern Ireland."

Simon Henson, 35, has dystonia which, like Parkinson's, affects the brain.

The former lifeguard and fitness instructor, from Newport, said HCW's decision was "soul destroying". He is supported by his AM and Wales' deputy health minister John Griffiths who says Mr Henson should receive the treatment.

But despite the HCW being an executive agency of the assembly government, Mr Griffiths said he could not use his ministerial position to intervene.

Mr Henson said: "You get one chance of something happening and you get these people sat in offices deliberating who should have operations and who should not."

A spokesman for HCW said: "HCW has determined that, as there is limited evidence for the cost effectiveness of this procedure, it is a low priority within the commissioning plan for 2006/07.

"Our current policy is that we do not commission DBS."

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