HEALTH chiefs have reaffirmed their commitment to a patients group following a high-level protest.
Volunteer Irene Bullough was angry that Ellesmere Port & Neston Primary Care Trust (PCT) didn't seem to be contributing to the region's Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme any more.
She wrote with her concerns to Health Secretary John Reid, borough MP Andrew Miller and Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, as well as the region's PCT and the Pioneer.
Mrs Bullough was speaking in her capacity as chairman of Breathe Easy Chester, a patient-support arm of the British Lung Foundation.
Her letter said: 'We wish to voice our concern that the PCT is not contributing to the programme organised by the Countess of Chester Hospital.
'For the past 10 years people in Ellesmere Port have been able to access and benefit from the programme.
'This helped contribute to what is now a comprehensive programme headed by a dedicated specialist physiotherapist.
'The PCT should reconsider the effects of their decision on the people they serve.'
Pulmonary rehabilitation, widely recognised as one of the most beneficial treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, incorporates exercise and education.
Sessions take place at the hospital and in the community, including Great Sutton medical centre. There are plans to hold sessions at Ellesmere Port Cottage Hospital.
When questioned by the Pioneer, Ellesmere Port & Neston PCT did not explain why it had withdrawn its support for the group.
But the PCT has held a series of meetings to discuss the matter.
A spokeswoman said: 'We were very concerned to hear that this service was withdrawn to Ellesmere Port patients.
'This was not the intention and discussions are under way to reinstate the service with immediate effect.
'Every effort will be made in future to ensure that services to patients are not withdrawn in this way.'
On hearing this, Mrs Bullough, of Whitby, said: 'I'm absolutely delighted with this news.
'But it's a shame the PCT did not realise the implications of their decision beforehand.'