PATIENTS in Scotland with a blood condition known as the 'Celtic Curse' are resorting to private clinics for a maintenance treatment that has been made available on the NHS in England despite the closure of clinics.

Haemochromatosis is an inherited condition more common in Scotland, Ireland and Wales where the body builds up too much iron.

It not treated regularly, iron 'overload' can damage parts of the body such as the liver, joints, pancreas and heart while other symptoms include lethargy and joint pain.

The maintenance 'blood letting' treatment known as a venesection has been suspended by health boards including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in all but the most urgent cases.

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However, it has emerged that NHS trusts in England have put a contingency plan in place allowing patients to continue to give their blood at donation centres. This has not been replicated by NHS Blood and Transplant Scotland (NHSBT).

Guidelines recommend that the procedure is carried out every six to 12 weeks if the condition is under control but more frequently if it is not.

Kevin Kane, from Glasgow, was told he would be waiting until August for a venesection at Stobhill hospital in Glasgow and said he has now paid for the procedure privately.

He said: "The have introduced measures in England to address the fact that during the pandemic haemochromatosis patients are unable to access their venesection treatment in the hospital clinics.

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"What I confirmed today (Friday) was that blood donation Scotland are aware of the change in England but have no plans to change the rules in Scotland.

"In short, haemochromatosis patients in England are still getting treatment on the NHS, albeit in a different setting. but in Scotland the postponements and cancellations remain.

"Meaning haemochromatosis patients are being better served in England than they are in Scotland."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service said: “The treatment of patients with genetic haemochromatosis is the responsibility of clinicians within individual Health Boards.

"Clinicians can refer patients to The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service to become blood donors as long as they meet all donor selection criteria.”