West Sussex celebrates NHS’s 65th birthday

Hastings and Eastbourne web pictures
Hastings and Eastbourne web pictures

A new screening programme, run by Sussex Community NHS Trust (SCT), that will prevent hundreds of premature deaths is now available to all men aged 65 and over in West Sussex and throughout England on the 65th anniversary of the NHS.

Around 5,000 people, most of them older men, die in England and Wales every year from abdominal aortic aneurysms, which are formed when the main blood vessel in the body weakens and expands. The NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme aims to prevent around half of those deaths.

Hany Hafez, consultant vascular surgeon and Sussex screening programme director, said: “It is particularly pleasing today, 65 years on from the creation of the National Health Service, to see 65-year-old men in West Sussex benefitting from the latest evidence-based NHS screening service.

“Abdominal aortic aneurysms are a major killer of older men and usually have no symptoms. Screening is important because it can prevent many avoidable deaths by spotting aneurysms early, so they can be monitored and treated if necessary.”

SCT’s Sussex AAA screening programme invites men for screening during the year they turn 65 while men over 65 who have not already been screened can arrange an appointment. Large AAAs can be very dangerous because they can burst – a medical emergency that is usually fatal. Men are six times more likely than women to have an AAA, which is why only men are screened.

Hany continued: “The screening test is a simple non-invasive ultrasound scan, similar to that offered to women in pregnancy, it only takes around 10 minutes and you receive your result straight away.

“I would urge all men aged 65 and over in West Sussex to consider seriously the offer of screening, especially if they are in a high risk group.”

The risk of having an AAA is higher if you:

- Smoke or have ever smoked

- Have high blood pressure

- Have a close relative (parent or sibling) who has had an AAA

All men whose 65th birthday falls on or after 1 April 2013 will automatically be invited for screening. Men in their late 60s or early 70s who have not previously been screened can contact the West Sussex AAA screening office on: 01243 831503 to book an appointment, or email: SC-TR.sxaaascreening@nhs.net

The NHS AAA Screening Programme is part of Public Health England, the expert national body that aims to protect and improve the nation’s health.