HEART patients are celebrating today after health chiefs made a U-turn on a decision not to fund a pioneering operation.
The lives of dozens of people were left hanging in the balance after the North West Specialised Commissioning Group (NWSCG) decided not to fund TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation).
Patients had no option but to apply to their local Primary Care Trusts for funding and many were refused the treatment and forced to appeal.
But now, there is a glimmer of hope after the NWSCG approved the routine commissioning of the £25,000 procedure at a special meeting yesterday.
Clarice Richardson, 83, from Norbreck, was forced to appeal to NHS Blackpool’s specialist patient panel after being refused the treatment.
The grandmother-of-four said: “I’m hoping they can do it now.
“It’s just no life – I can’t get out.
“It’s been really upsetting for the whole family.”
Former nurse Clarice Davies, 89, from Bispham, has been waiting a year to see if she can have treatment.
The grandmother-of-six, of Haddon Road, said: “It’s great news, I didn’t expect it.
“I’m hoping they will go through with the procedure now.
“I appreciate all the support I’ve received. It’s dragged on so long.”
Fleetwood war veteran Hubert Crossley, 91, of Princes Way, said: “I’m pleased something is happening and all we can do now is keep our fingers crossed.
“If the chance to have the procedure is offered to me, I’ll take it. It may give me another three or four years of life.”
The great-grandfather, had appealed against the decision and written to Prime Minister David Cameron about lack of funding.
TAVI corrects aortic stenosis which is the narrowing of the aortic heart valve. It is a condition which affects mainly elderly people and enables replacement of the valve without the need for open heart surgery.
A spokesman for the NWSCG said: “In line with other specialised commissioning groups in England, the North West Specialised Commissioning Group has approved the routine commissioning of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation.
“Commissioning of this procedure will be in line with the national commissioning framework and with the patient selection criteria agreed by clinicians across the North West.
“TAVI will be commissioned within current cardiac budgets for 2011/2012 and without, therefore, removing funding from any other service. As a still emerging technique TAVI will continue to be subject to clinical audit on patient outcomes in order to evaluate its effectiveness”.
Dr David Roberts, consultant cardiologist at Lancashire Cardiac Centre in Blackpool, and lead spokesman for the UK TAVI Forum, added: “It is tremendously good news for patients.
“It will save lives, but importantly it will improve the quality of life.
“Hopefully this will improve their quality of life and reduce hospital re-admission rates.”