Cardiology department set to grow

IPSWICH Hospital's cardiology department is looking to expand to cope with growing patient numbers, a senior consultant revealed today.Dr Norman Irvine said the number of patients seen by the cardiology team is growing by 10 per cent every year - and more doctors and a new department are needed.

IPSWICH Hospital's cardiology department is looking to expand to cope with growing patient numbers, a senior consultant revealed today.

Dr Norman Irvine said the number of patients seen by the cardiology team is growing by 10 per cent every year - and more doctors and a new department are needed.

The pressure of increasing numbers is doubled with strict government rules to reduce waiting lists and the department's keenness to provide better services.

Dr Irvine said: “We are now looking to increase the number of cardiologists and we are at an advanced stage.

“For patients it will mean a more consultant led service - they are more likely to see consultants rather than junior doctors.

“It will also help us meet targets from the Department of Health which are ever stricter and for which we need extra pairs of hands.”

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Dr Irvine was the first cardiologist employed at the hospital, back in 1988. He has since been joined by three colleagues, most recently Dr Duncan McNab in July.

He said: “The number of cardiologists has grown considerably because of the sheer workload that's there.

“Referrals have been increasing year by year by 10pc or thereabouts. That might not sound very much, but when you think over five years it's 50pc, and ten years in 100pc, it's a lot.

“When I came here I did two cardiology clinics a month and someone from Papworth Hospital did one a month down here. Now we do 21 a week.

“We have been in this cardiology department for 12 or 13 years and we've outgrown it.

“We are looking for a new home and hope that when departments move around for the new Garrett Anderson treatment centre, it might come about.”

The department, which sees around 200 outpatients a week, is also providing more services including angiography - x-rays of arteries so obstructed or narrowed arteries can be found.

Previously, patients from Suffolk would have to wait around a year and travel to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for the procedure. The wait at Ipswich is now nine weeks.

And the number of pacemakers being fitted in Ipswich has risen from 40 in 1993 to a predicted 315 this year, because of the ageing population and advances in surgery.

Dr Irvine said: “We are now providing as good a cardiology service as any other district general hospital in the country.”

n Has the hospital's cardiology department saved your life? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

ONE of the jewels in the cardiology department's crown is the rapid access clinics.

The clinics were launched after a government ruling in 2000 that patients complaining of chest pains should be seen by a cardiologist within two weeks.

The hospital clinics, visited by around 25 patients a week, are led by a specialist nurse and assisted by doctors.

The clinics run five times a week and give patients access to all the necessary tests in one sitting.

Patients sometimes used to wait three months to see a consultant, then three months for certain tests, then perhaps a year for the operation - a long process which the government wants to get down to 18 weeks with initiatives like the rapid access clinics.

Patients prefer the rapid access clinics as there is less waiting, and they are given leaflets and videos of information.

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