Teacher denied op that could “save her life’’

Mandy Mason has been denied a simple operation by NHS to prevent her chances of having another stroke. with husband Andy
Mandy Mason has been denied a simple operation by NHS to prevent her chances of having another stroke. with husband Andy

A teacher is being denied what she claims is a simple but potentially life-saving procedure because of an NHS funding crisis.

Mandy Mason battled back to fitness after suffering a stroke two years ago, and says she was recently told by a cardiology consultant that the cause was probably an undetected hole in her heart.

The 50-year-old was advised that a procedure with little risk could be performed to close the hole, but was left astounded when told that NHS England had recently withdrawn such funding for stroke victims under the age of 65.

The authority claims the success rate between taking medication and the operation was not sufficient enough to warrant paying the £16,000 procedural costs.

Mrs Mason, who works at Half Acres Primary in Castleford, said: “We are stunned at this decision as my family, husband and I have worked all our lives and have contributed massive amounts in National Insurance.

“I am only 50, and if this government has their way, they will have many years more work out of me.

“Over a longer period, the cost of providing me with prescribed drugs would far outweigh the cost of this non-evasive procedure.

“More importantly, the stress of worrying about having another stroke would be greatly reduced.

“Since having this news I have experienced some anxiety and have even had my first panic attack.”

Mrs Mason, of Walnut Drive, Pontefract only learned about the hole on her heart last year, which is medically known as patent foramen ovale (PFO).

It usually exists in 25 per cent of pre-born babies, but the hole will usually close up after birth.

In cases where the hole doesn’t close, it may never be detected, but evidence has emerged to suggest it increases the risk of a stroke.

Although shocked by the PFO, the mother-of-two says she is one of many to have fallen through the NHS funding gap.

She is now weighing up her options - including looking beyond Britain.

She said: “We’re considering going abroad to have it done, privately.

“We could get it done privately here but it will be cheaper abroad, but we’d probably still have to look at downsizing from where we live to pay for it.

“The NHS say it’s not economically viable here, but I am economically viable.

“I’m part of a group of people with PFOs and by my reckoning, there’s probably about 100 of us nationally.

“I just want people to be aware of this, that there is no money on the NHS.”

An NHS England spokesperson said the NHS did not carry out the procedure because of a lack of “sufficient evidence that it is effective”.

They added: “Clinicians can, on behalf of their patients, make an individual funding request (IFR) to NHS England for specialised treatment. In making such an application for funding they must make a case of clinical exceptionality.”