Ex-nurse has to sell home for treatment

A RETIRED nurse who was denied vital heart treatment on the NHS has fallen victim of the credit crunch as she is unable to sell her home to pay for the life-prolonging procedure herself.

A RETIRED nurse who was denied vital heart treatment on the NHS has fallen victim of the credit crunch as she is unable to sell her home to pay for the life-prolonging procedure herself.

Joan Botten, 64, desperately needs cash from the sale of her three-bedroom home to fund stem cell treatment she cannot get in this country.

The former nurse from Witham has already drained her and husband Mike's life savings to pay for £90,000-worth of treatment over the past six years.

But now the coffers are bare and after being denied funding on the NHS, the sick pensioner is forced to travel to Germany where she can pay to have the procedure privately.

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The grandmother-of-four said: “We have had chronically appalling treatment on the NHS.

“It's disgusting. I worked for the NHS for more than 18 years and I have worked all my life and they have done nothing to help me.

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“All our savings have gone and all we have left is our house. We have been happy here for 16 years and now we can't even sell it.”

Mrs Botten suffers from chronic heart failure as a result of having rheumatic fever as a child which damaged her heart valves.

She had a heart attack in 2000, forcing her to leave her job as a manager of a residential care home and suffered another heart attack in 2001.

Since then she has had two operations in Monaco to have pacemakers fitted because she and retired residential care home manager Mr Botten, 65, feared waiting for it to be done on the NHS would prove fatal.

In 2005, Mrs Botten had stem cell treatment to strengthen her heart. The therapy involves taking stem cells from bone marrow in the hip, selecting the cells they need then passing them by catheter into the heart. The cells then grown back into the muscle wall and blood vessels, assisting the heart.

Mrs Botten suffered a third heart attack at the end of last year and said she needs the treatment to lead a normal life.

She said: “I have had three treatments in Germany. At first it cost 10,000 Euros but now it is available on their health service and costs about 5,500 Euros.

“It alleviates my symptoms - two years ago I was not able to get out of bed. Now I can move around and I am not as breathless and as blue. The treatment allows me to lead my life.”

But the credit crunch means the couple have been unable to sell their £235,000 home.

It first went on the market in November, but they have not had any viewings since February and their agent has urged them to knock £20,000 off the price.

Mrs Botten said: “That would be cash for around six treatments. I literally can't afford to reduce the price when I know what it could mean. We have had no real interest at all. We are stuck in a No Man's Land.”

Mid Essex Primary Care Trust's exceptional cases panel rejected the couple's appeal to secure funding, Mrs Botten added.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We have arrangements in place to consider individual requests for treatments which fall outside of our normal commissioning policy.

“All of the evidence concerning an individual's case is looked at in detail by our Exceptional Cases Panel, which is made up of clinical staff as well as non-executive directors, commissioning managers and members of the public.

“All individuals have the right to appeal and can bring new requests to the panel that are supported by a clinician.”

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