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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 12:01 GMT
Cuts force patient to take loan
Patricia Hewitt
Patricia Hewitt has called for a full report into the cuts
A patient denied the heart treatment Tony Blair underwent because of hospital cuts says he will have to use a 10,000 loan for private treatment.

Mike Collins, 55, from Abingdon, is one of the scores of patients told they cannot have cardiac ablation therapy at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Mr Collins has now booked himself in for the procedure at a private hospital in Manchester at the end of February.

The John Radcliffe hospital said it would not comment on individual cases.

Mr Collins, a business studies lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, fears he will now have to work past retirement age in order to repay the loan for the treatment, which will cost between 8,000 and 10,000.

My heart condition is impacting on my life, the inadequacies of the NHS is impacting on my family
Mike Collins

He said: "The NHS has moved the goal posts. I was on a waiting list for almost six months then I was taken off the list to help meet targets.

"I'm fortunate - I have the option of taking out a loan, other patients on that list might not be able to afford repayments."

He was scheduled to undergo the procedure - which uses radio frequency energy to correct abnormal heart rhythms - on 19 December last year.

A wire catheter is fed in through a vein in the groin, up to the heart
Electrical sensors at the tip of the catheter allow the surgeon to find the short circuit
The catheter then delivers electrical pulses which destroy - ablate - the short circuit

But in late November he received a letter stating he was no longer eligible for the procedure.

"I am now back to square one and looking at a massive personal loan as my only option to fund this treatment that I thought I would be having on the NHS," he said.

The decision to cut the therapy for up to 100 patients, which was backed by the county-wide clinical advisory group Oxfordshire NHS Priorities Forum, has been widely criticised.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt, who has criticised hospital bosses for failing to manage their budget, has called for a full report into the decision.

Trudie Lobban, chair of the Arrhythmia Alliance, said: "It is terrible that patients are being forced to get into debt for an essential procedure that they should be entitled to on the NHS."

A spokeswoman for the hospital said that a review was now taking place.

"The NHS in Oxfordshire has agreed with Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority to review the revised clinical criteria on cardiac ablation issued by the Oxfordshire Priorities Forum to ensure that they reflect national guidance on the treatment of coronary heart disease.

"If any changes are made to these criteria, the eligibility of patients for cardiac ablation will be reviewed in light of these changes."

Heart therapy cuts to be reviewed
04 Jan 06 |  Oxfordshire
Hewitt slams NHS trust overspend
03 Jan 06 |  Oxfordshire
Heart treatment cut at hospital
28 Dec 05 |  Oxfordshire

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