Dead because of his postcode?

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A DISTRAUGHT family whose father died while waiting for a vital heart operation say the NHS could have saved his life.

Bill Nickson, from Normoss, was denied the funding to go ahead with transcatheter aorticvalve implantation (TAVI) treatment which could have prevented the 90-year-old's death.

His family say they are disgusted the NHS is failing to give patients the lifeline they need. Margaret Nickson, Mr Nickson's daughter-in-law, told The Gazette: "The family are distraught. We feel angry and bitter something like this that could save someone's life should be refused.

"We don't want any other family to go through what we've gone through.

"This shouldn't happen, it's age discrimination. It's terrible."

Mr Nickson – a paratrooper in the Second World War – began suffering from shortness of breath in summer 2010. He was not eligible for open heart surgery meaning the new TAVI heart valve procedure, which costs 25,000, was his only option – but he was refused funding.

Backed by his cardiologist Dr David Roberts, Mr Nickson was in the process of appealing to NHS Blackpool to have the treatment when he died on November 2 last year.

Mrs Nickson, from Marton, added: "He would have had a better quality of life. He was still driving and was a strong family man, he was the centre of the family. He loved gardening and pottering around. He was always joking, he loved a laugh. He was the main carer for his wife, Prue, who is chronically disabled.

"We have all lost a lot."

Cardiac centres in Manchester, Blackpool and Liverpool have the expertise but now only Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital will offer TAVI – and only to patients from Wales and the Isle of Man where funding for the treatment is approved.

The North West Specialised Commissioning Group (NWSCG) – which advises PCT boards on "how best to invest public money" – has told cardiac centres it will not be funding TAVI for the time being, even though it is available in most other regions.