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Treatment deal gives new hope

PUBLISHED: 22:03 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 October 2010

STEVE DOWNES

A former Norfolk fisherman is recovering well from a serious leg ulcer - but only thanks to the goodwill of the makers of a specialised gadget.

A former Norfolk fisherman is recovering well from a serious leg ulcer - but only thanks to the goodwill of the makers of a specialised gadget.

Christopher Craske feared he might lose his leg because health officials would not guarantee long-term funding of a crucial treatment.

The necessary "vacuum" procedure had given Mr Craske hope of a new lease of life after years battling a leg ulcer and circulation problems.

But funding from Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge ran out on Wednesday - and North Norfolk Primary Care Trust said they would only guarantee to meet the £40-a-day cost for a week.

The issue appears to be yet another reminder of the ongoing cash crisis in the NHS, which has hit some Primary Care Trusts across East Anglia particularly hard.

The situation was resolved when the problem caught the attention of KCL, the makers of the gadget that is helping Mr Craske. They have offered to pay the costs until his leg heals.

Mr Craske has seen a big improvement in the leg ulcer in the past fortnight, apparently thanks to round-the-clock treatment from the VAC machine, which applies pressure to the wound to speed up healing.

He said: "Without this my leg would be off. Who can put a price on something as important as that?

"This is my last chance. Since I started, the ulcer has gone from one inch deep to almost flat. It's been amazing."

The 59-year-old, of Henry Blogg Road in Cromer, has a condition called hypercholesterolaemia, where his body produces excess cholesterol regardless of his diet.

The same condition claimed the life of his brother Colin at the age of 47 in 1992.

It causes poor circulation, which has stopped Mr Craske's leg ulcer from healing.

He has gone from an active life - including 39 years as a fisherman and lifeboatman - to being unable to walk about.

The family, including Mr Craske's wife Fiona, initially thought the PCT would not pay for the VAC procedure at all.

But now officials have said they will provide the money for a week's treatment.

PCT spokeswoman Rebecca Champion denied it had refused to fund the gadget.

She said the PCT had a policy of not usually funding it, but had agreed to a clinical visit and assessment because Addenbrooke's flagged up the special nature of the case.


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