Fewer heart operations in UK


London - The number of heart operations across Britain dropped for the first time in 25 years last year because of "problems across all fronts", a senior government official conceded yesterday.

Despite a promise by the Health Secretary, Mr Alan Milburn, to tackle heart disease with a £50 million injection, the government found itself on the defensive as figures showed urgent operations were being delayed.

Dr Roger Boyle, national director for Heart Disease for England, confirmed that data from the heart surgeons' professional body recorded a fall in UK-wide surgery. "Some patients are waiting longer and it is unacceptable," he told BBC radio.