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Burnham For Mayor

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Government must look again at Heart Screening

I have written to Andrew Lansley calling on him to ask the National Screening Committee to re-examine the case for offering heart screening on the NHS to young adults, particularly young sportsmen and women.

Last month, the collapse of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba again raised concerns about the risks of sudden heart failure in young people. Charity Cardiac Risk in the Young warns that as many as 12 sudden deaths occur in the UK every week.

CRY believes current Government advice not to offer heart screening fails to consider the latest medical evidence and is based on an under-estimate of the number of deaths of young people from sudden heart failure.

In Italy, screening is routinely offered to young sportspeople and evidence shows a much reduced rate of deaths.

I have long been convinced that we can do more to identify young people at risk from sudden heart failure.

Every week it is estimated that 12 young people die in this way and the sudden collapse of Fabrice Muamba has brought home to us all the risks once again. Fabrice was playing in a football ground with the necessary medical back-up - and we are thankful for that - but other young players at grassroots level are not so lucky.

The loss of a young life in their prime on a sports field cause total shock and utter devastation for families. I know that from working with the Young family, whose son Daniel died in my constituency whilst playing football in 2005. Daniel's mum Dionne often says how she bought everything Daniel needed for his football, but never knew that the best money she could ever have spent would be the £35 needed for a heart test with CRY.

In this day and age, we can and should be doing more to prevent other families going through this terrible trauma. If we want a truly preventative NHS, then we must have effective screening services. I urge the Government to look seriously at this issue and consider whether we can learn from Italy's lead.