MP: ‘strong argument’ for cardiac screening trial

Paul Holmes to write to Health Secretary after meeting bereaved parents at charity screening event

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Graham and Anne Hunter put the case for cardiac screening to Paul Holmes MP (L)

Eastleigh’s MP Paul Holmes has spoken out in support of the routine cardiac screening of young people after taking part in a screening session in West End over the weekend.

The 31-year-old MP was one of 200 young people aged between 14-35 who had an electrocardiogram (ECG) test carried out by Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), a Charity dedicated to screening people aged 14 – 35 with the aim of identifying those who could be at risk of Young Sudden Cardiac Death (YSCD).

CRY say that every week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die suddenly of undiagnosed heart conditions without having displayed any previous outward symptoms – deaths that might have been prevented by a having an ECG test which is a simple and inexpensive way to diagnose most cardiac abnormalities.

Currently the test is only available on the NHS to those who have obvious symptoms or who have experienced a sudden cardiac death in the family.

The two-day screening session at the Ageas Bowl, organised by the Hampshire Cricket Foundation as part of their  ‘Changing Lives. Saving Lives’ initiative, was free of charge to users having been funded by money raised at a recent Ladies Lashes Charity Luncheon held at the stadium.The screening sessions were dedicated to memory of Claire Reed, a young local woman who died suddenly of SCD while out on a hen party with her friends .

Claire’s parents, Graham and Anne Hunter attended the event and were able to tell the MP how the death of their daughter had impacted on them and about their disappointment on learning that the UK National Screening Committee had recently decided against recommending that cardiac screening should be offered to all young people on the NHS.

Like many bereaved parents who have lost their children to YSCD the Hunter’s have worked tirelessly to raise thousands of pounds to fund screening sessions in the hope they might save young lives and spare other families the grief they have endured.

The Hunters told Paul Holmes they believed the government should at least consider running a screening programme as a trial to gather the data they say will prove that screening is an effective predictor of cardiac risk. Eastleigh News understands at least eight people screened at the Ageas Bowl over the weekend have been referred for further investigation.

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Paul Holmes took an ECG test – a simple and inexpensive way to detect heart abnormalites

The MP – whose test result was normal – promised he would follow in the footsteps of his parliamentary predecessor, Mims Davies, by taking the matter up with the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, saying:

“This sort of screening can help save the lives of countless young people who may have undiagnosed heart conditions and could be at risk.

“There is a strong argument for a pilot screening programme which would build the case for a national screening programme for all young people. I’ll be writing to the Health Secretary next week to make this point and praise all the volunteers who give up their time to conduct the screening sessions.”

Anne and Graham Hunter have raised money for another free screening session at the Ageas Bowl on February 15 which will take the total number of young people screened in memory of Claire Reed to 1,800 while the Hampshire Cricket Foundation are proposing to offer free screening to all 14-year-olds taking part in cricket in the county.