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Specialist nurses needed for cardiovascular screening

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Urgent NHS funding for more specialist staff and resources to screen children and young people for an inherited heart condition has been called for by the Royal College of Physicians.

It reports that familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), which causes high levels of LDL cholesterol in later life, is putting thousands of people unwittingly at risk.

The report recommends more screening resources for trusts, including specialist doctors and nurses and a system of ‘cascade’ family testing.

It also says that clearly-defined care pathways are needed, including better facilities for examining children and young people in ‘appropriate’ settings.

Said Professor Steve Humphries, director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Genetics, British Heart Foundation Laboratories: ‘Sorting this out is a key priority.

‘The NICE guidelines have laid out the best way to identify and treat people with FH, and we know that this will save lives and is very cost effective.

‘The problem at the moment is that most trusts have not yet been able to find funding for the DNA testing or the nursing and support staff to carry out the cascade family testing.’

An estimated 120,000 people in England have the condition - as many as have type 1 diabetes - of which 85% are undiagnosed.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It will be interesting to see how the projected NHS shortfall of £15 billion over the next five years reported by the NHS Confederation a couple of weeks ago will impact on this. The report suggests that there wouldn't be any cash increase to the NHS for 2011-2012 and there'd be a 3% cut per annum. With numerous cost-effective services vying for a cut of an ever decreasing pot of money, it seems that the NHS is destined to be unable to provide these, despite being shown to be cost-effective. I fear for the future of the NHS.

    Gary Porter-Jones

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