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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  15 May 2006

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PEOPLE living with congenital heart disease are set to benefit from better care as a result of new Government guidance launched by Health Minister Rosie Winterton today. The guidance, developed with patients, patient groups and experts, highlights the importance of access to specialist treatment for young people and adults with congenital heart disease, also known as Grown Ups with Congenital Heart Disease or GUCH). Designed for NHS commissioners and patients, the guide will be a powerful driver of service improvement.

Thanks to improvements in techniques and new treatments in the 1980s and 1990s, the survival rate of children with congenital heart conditions into adulthood has improved significantly. There are now
more adults with the condition than children - some 135,000 in England, of which about 17,000 have complex conditions. Although many have complex conditions, they can expect to lead full lives with
the right support.

The guidance provides advice and support for commissioners and defines what patients and their families can expect from the NHS. It aims to:

- ensure that patients are seen and treated by staff with appropriate levels of expertise;

- help the NHS provide better transition between children's and adult services;

-increase levels of awareness of congenital heart conditions in the NHS; and lead to improved cohesion of services.

Visiting the Heart Hospital in London, one of the leading GUCH centres in the country, Health Minister Rosie Winterton said:- "Patients need a more cohesive service that recognises that
congenital heart disease is a life long condition which can affect quality of life. This guidance will help to ensure that patients receive consistent, expert and co-ordinated care from the NHS.  Specialists and patients have told us how important it is for patients to see an expert in GUCH. Therefore, to deliver the best possible service, and to ensure patients are treated by those clinicians with experience of their condition, we are concentrating expertise in a small number of specialist centres like this one at the Heart Hospital, and are developing care plans between these centres and more generalist locally based services."

The guide suggests indicators of high quality care. An example of an indicator is in the area of transition between children's and adult services. The guide suggests that every young person has a detailed care plan setting out their follow up arrangements after leaving the care of their paediatric cardiologist. Other indicators cover a range of services including those provided in local centres, primary care, and those for patients with special needs.

The guidance is published in the same week the British Heart Foundation announce their annual statistics showing "the massive progress" that has been made in tackling coronary heart disease
(disease of the arteries) in England. The National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease was published in March 2000 to improve the prevention, treatment, quality of care and access to care for
patients with coronary heart disease. One topic that the Framework did not address was that of congenital heart disease which is an abnormality of the heart present at birth.


THE 1ST wave of Liverpool youngsters to take part in a special 3 year Tall Ships project are to take to the high seas this week.  A dozen nautical novices aged 16 to 23 from across the city have been picked to participate in the 50th Anniversary Tall Ships Race.

Selected from interviews by the Liverpool Culture Company, after being nominated by their school or the city's youth services, they take their first sailing lessons during a 3 day trip on the Irish Sea aboard the training vessel The Greater Manchester Challenge.

Warmer climes await as the dozen split up for the prestigious race. The first will cruise from Lisbon for La Coruna from 22 July 2006 to 8 August 2006 on board the Tall Ship Christian Radich, which also visits Liverpool on 1 July to 2 July. The second group will race on the Tall Ships Mir and Bark Europa, from La Coruna for Antwerp from 9 August to 21 August.

Funded by Liverpool city council's Children's Services, a new group will be chosen to compete in the Tall Ships Race in 2007. The project will climax in 2008 to celebrate Liverpool hosting the race start in July.

More than 3,000 young sailors are expected to dock in the city for what will be one of the highlights of the European Capital of Culture year - with more than one million people expected to see the fleet from July 18-21.

Paul Clein, Executive Member for Children's Services, said:- ''This Tall Ships training project is fantastic opportunity for our youngsters - not just to learn maritime skills but about themselves and other people and cultures.  'To have been selected is a great achievement and I'm sure this group will be great ambassadors for our city. I hope the race proves to be a life changing event for them, and they take full advantage to broaden their horizons and aspirations.  'I'm delighted we are using one of our major European Capital of Culture events to provide Liverpool people with such an amazing experience. I'm sure we'll be inundated for the 2008 race!''

The Tall Ships Race Liverpool Trainees chosen to sail the Tall Ship Christian Radich are:-

* Laura Russell (16yrs) Speke

* Katie Bianca Pritchard (Williams) (16yrs) Speke

* Charlotte Deighton (18yrs) Childwall

* Craig Johnston (16) Speke

* Paul McLean (19) Wavertree

* Matthew Weston (Not Sailing) (19yrs) Garston

Those racing on the Tall Ships Mir and Bark Europa are:-

* Luke Moorhead (16yrs) Speke (Tall Ship Mir)

* Paul Brophy (22yrs) Childwall (Tall Ship Mir)

* Andrew Tomlinson (23yrs) Allerton (Tall Ship Mir)

* Joshua Bell (17yrs) Liverpool 6 (Tall Ship Bark Europa)

* Nick Wilsher (16yrs) Liverpool 17 (Tall Ship Bark Europa)

* Michael Dougan (18yrs) Liverpool 9 (Tall Ship Bark Europa)

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