Hundreds of heart attack survivors are angry that changes have been made to essential follow-up care.

The Worcester Heart Support group has made an official complaint to the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital, after it reduced the number of cardiac rehabilitation classes.

The group says national body NICE says patients who have survived a heart attack must be offered 12 hourly sessions of exercise along with six hourly sessions of cardiac rehabilitation education within six weeks of discharge form hospital.

The group says the hospital is offering all the exercise sessions but is now only offering just one afternoon education session every two months.

The group’s president Trevor Cooper says those educational sessions are critical.

He said: “My wife Ena had a heart attack 18 years ago. It came out of the blue, it was very sudden.

"When she came out of hospital I remember thinking to myself that her every need had been looked after for two weeks but now it was just me.

"I thought: ‘What the hell do I do now?’ I was very anxious.”

Mr Cooper said he had arranged a room for Mrs Cooper so she didn’t have to move much and soon found out, thanks to the rehab classes, that was a mistake.

He said: "They said she needed to be active. So I’d got it wrong straight away. But there was about 20 of us in the group and we had advice on medicines, on exercise, on diet.

"We could ask all sorts of questions, and get advice from specialists, but also get help and support from each other. It made a real difference.”

However, the trust says the changes it has made have improved its care.

A spokesman said: “We have made improvements in the way educational support is provided to heart patients across the county.

"This improvement has been made as part of our ongoing Cardiac Rehabilitation programme which continues to support these patients.

“The improvements, based on current national guidance on best practice, have been supported by the National Audit for Cardiac Rehabilitation. A number of senior doctors and nurses from our cardiology service, as well as senior managers from the trust, have spent time meeting with members of the Worcester Heart Support Group to explain what we are doing and why.

“Support groups for heart patients in other parts of the county have been positive about the changes we've made and it is disappointing that, despite our best efforts, the Worcester Heart group has not recognised the benefits to patients and carers this new educational support offers.”