"Abdominal aortic aneurysm and anything short of immediate action can result fatally"

About: Bassetlaw Hospital / General surgery Doncaster Royal Infirmary / General surgery Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

(as the patient),

Although I applaud any initiative to combat the killer that is AAA and anybody over the age of 65 are to be monitored, lets spare a thought for those (like myself) who are liable to suffer similarly at an earlier age. In my case 61. The net should be widened to facilitate all those of 60+ so a greater number of lives can be saved.

Another point is, unless policy has altered, that on contacting 999 the report of abdominal pain is not regarded as an 'emergency' and it took almost 2 hours to respond. You'll find that the clue is that AAA means abdominal aortic aneurysm and anything short of immediate action can result in a fatality. In my case I had 5 hours in surgery with 13 pints of blood being administered. I regard that as an emergency. My final comment regards the fact that Bassetlaw Hospital does not seem to have the facilities to deal with AAA and the paramedics had to make the decision whether to risk travel to either Sheffield or Doncaster. Luckily the choice was Doncaster Royal which has one of the best cardio-vascular response units in the country. Even so, my survival is regarded as somewhat amazing and the care I received afterwards was outstanding and I have already sent a message of thanks to all concerned.

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Response from Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your kind comments about the service you received at Doncaster Royal Infirmary following your treatment for an AAA. We are also pleased to hear that your procedure was successful and will make sure that your message of thanks is passed on to the relevant staff.

Doncaster Royal Infirmary is indeed a leading hospital for vascular surgery. It's also the hospital in the Doncaster and Bassetlaw area that has the specialist staff best equipped to deal with the serious open surgery that people who experience a ruptured AAA undergo. Our sister hospital in Bassetlaw is smaller and we only provide outpatient services at Retford, so all vascular operations take place at Doncaster.

You suggested extending the AAA Screening Programme to men aged 60+ rather than 65+. The AAA Screening Programme is a national programme and is delivered to the agreed national standards that specify the age range that can be offered the screening.

A wide range of research carried out across Europe and America into AAAs has shown that men aged 65-74 are the group most at risk of suffering an AAA. By offering the AAA Screening Programme to the men most at risk, it is expected that we will see reductions in emergency admissions such as the one you experienced, together with a reduction in deaths from AAAs of around 50%.

At the moment the national AAA Screening Programme offers routine screening to the men identified as being in the most at-risk group. However we are aware that there are people under 65 who are concerned about AAAs.

We would advise those people to contact their local GP to discuss their concerns in more detail. There are lifestyle factors such smoking and having a poor diet that make some people more susceptible to AAAs than others. Also, if there is a history of AAAs in someone’s family we would recommend people speak to their GP, who will advise if a scan is necessary or not.

You can find out much more about AAAs at www.aaa.screening.nhs.uk, including the research that led to the creation of the AAA screening programme.

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