A SICK pensioner fears she might die waiting for a heart operation because of the prospect of a two-year wait at Southampton General Hospital.

Flo Revill, 79, has accused the NHS of age discrimination.

She is pessimistic about the prospects of living to enjoy a new lease of life promised by a triple heart by-pass operation, having already waited nearly one year for heart surgery.

Mrs Revill is waiting to hear from the hospital but has been warned she is unlikely to have an operation before the end of this year.

The widow said: "I was shocked enough to know how ill I was without the added ordeal of waiting nearly two years.

"All I want to do is see my grandson Adam grow up and go to university. He's only 12 and I was told I could live about ten years longer with a by-pass operation, because I'm so fit otherwise.

"But that was in February last year, when I was told the waiting list was six to nine months. Then I was told it was 12 months, but more realistically 18 months, from last summer.

"I was told my age made it likely I wouldn't be the best patient for heart surgery and was I sure I wanted the operation at all?

"It seems to me I'm waiting longer than I was told and longer than I should be. It seems that I'm not a priority because of my age, but surely I should be treated sooner because I might not even live long enough to have this operation.'

Mrs Revill, of Wickham Road, Fareham, was taken to Ports-mouth's Queen Alexandra Hos-pital last February with a suspected heart attack. She was diagnosed as having angina and a consultant told her she needed heart surgery or she could die from the next angina attack.

She agreed to be included on a six- to nine-month waiting list for surgery at Southampton General Hospital and then saw a cardiac specialist in Southamp-ton in April. He surprised her by saying she was not yet on a waiting list.

Mrs Revill said: "I was really knocked back by him telling me I wasn't likely to have an operation until the coming Christ-mas. I get depressed thinking about it. I used to do all the errands for my neighbours and take my grandson to school every day, but I'm worried if I overdo it there'll be no long-term help for me.''

Her daughter Jacqui Martin - Adam's mother - is finance director at First Bus group, Southampton.

She said: "My mother has always been a very fit and active person, but this has depressed her and she dare not go out in case of angina attacks, but has no way of knowing how long she has to live like this.

"The specialist told us he'd been told to tell patients they had a 12-month wait, but realistically it was 18 months, which is atrocious.''

Margaret Lovell, who is chief officer of the patients' watchdog Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Community Health Council, could not comment on Mrs Revill specifically.

She said: "Waiting lists are on the up in most clinical disciplines. But I wouldn't expect any age discrimination. Waiting lists are top of our agenda for our meeting with the health authority.''

Mrs Lovell said a lack of resources and staff was responsible for waiting lists increasing, despite government investment.

Marilyn Kay, of Southampton University Hospital NHS Health Trust, said: "The waiting time for non-emergency heart surgery is 12 months. But we have new government money to bring down the waiting time.

"We understand what an anxious time it is for patients and families, but we are doing all we can to cut the delays.''