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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 17:43 GMT
Heart treatment cut at hospital
Oxfordshire NHS managers are desperate to reduce the overspend
Some patients waiting for heart therapy in Oxfordshire have been told they are no longer eligible for NHS treatment.

A procedure to control irregular heartbeats has been cut at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford because of a lack of funding.

Up to 100 patients are thought to be affected, but the hospital was unable to confirm the exact number.

Oxfordshire Primary Care Trusts said patients with life-threatening conditions will still be treated.

Cardiac ablation therapy - which can free patients from feeling dizzy and tired - uses radio frequency energy to correct an abnormal heart rhythm.

Carol Thornton has been on the waiting list for nine months to get the treatment at the John Radcliffe Hospital but has now been sent a letter telling her she does no longer qualify for it.

She said: "I felt let down. I though it would be over and done with by now.

"Every day I have the palpitations and I'm feeling warm and I don't sleep very well.

Carol Thornton
Carol Thornton has been waiting for treatment for nine months

"I really thought the ablation would give me a better quality of life and now it's not going to happen."

The decision to cut cardiac ablation treatment at the hospital has been criticised by Arrhythmia Alliance - a charity to supports people who suffer with an irregular heartbeat.

Spokeswoman Trudie Lobban says it will create problems.

"These patients will present at their GPs, they will be calling ambulances, turning up in A&E department time and time again and they will actually be draining the NHS of resources," Ms Lobban said.

In a statement Oxfordshire Primary Care Trusts said it "has been looking at how best to use its resources".

"As part of this, the provision of cardiac ablation treatment has been reviewed and some patients have now been told they are no longer eligible to receive it.

"The treatment will still be available to patients who have serious or life-threatening conditions."

Anyone who has concerns is being urged to contact their GP.

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