Gallery: First look behind the scenes at Ipswich’s Hospital’s new heart centre made possible by The Star’s Have a Heart campaign

Members of the Cardiac Physiology Team John McCarthy, Jane Crawford, Elaine Sykes, Byron South, Sara

Members of the Cardiac Physiology Team John McCarthy, Jane Crawford, Elaine Sykes, Byron South, Sarah Elam, Emma Sanson and Pippa Burman are eager for the opening of the new PCI suite in the cardiology department at the Ipswich Hospital. - Credit: Archant

THESE pictures today show the first look behind the scenes at Ipswich Hospital’s new state-of-the-art heart centre.

For the first time The Star can reveal £30,000 raised by the Have A Heart Campaign has been used to buy a vital piece of equipment to help treat cardiac patients at their local hospital.

The multi-million pound unit is set to open its doors to patients later this year.

It comes after the three-year campaign fought by The Star, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, Heartbeat East Suffolk and thousands of supporters across the county to secure elective heart services at Ipswich Hospital.

In May 2009 The Star launched the campaign after uncovering controversial plans to establish three regional cardiac cetnres – at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth in Cambridgeshire and Basildon in Essex.

The move meant patients needing emergency heart care, as well as routine procedures would be forced to travel out of the county for treatment.

Backed by the support of the local community, The Star secured a review of the proposals by heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle.

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In December 2010 he recommended that Ipswich Hospital should have a non-emergency heart centre but not the emergency unit.

Last February we revealed the Department of Health had granted the hospital £5million to pay for the building after NHS Midlands and East – the then strategic health authority – put in a bid for the funding.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Paul Venables said: “Patients will no longer have to travel to a regional centre for this treatment which will make a real difference to both them and their families.

“Coupled with some of the other great service improvements going on in cardiology, it’s a great time to be part of the team.”

Mr Gummer told The Star: “This is a very exciting day for the town: we can see the new centre that we fought for taking shape. “It shows that when we make the effort we can win. I will continue to fight for specialist services in Ipswich.”

Jan Ingle, hospital spokeswoman, added: “Money raised by the Have a Heart campaign has funded a portable ultrasound machine for the labs – a vital piece of equipment.

“And a separate donation from Heartbeat East Suffolk has helped transform the centre from a clinical space into a tranquil and welcoming environment for patients. The support has been fantastic.”

Patients needing planned coronary angioplasty – also known as percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI – which involves narrowed arteries being widened in patients at risk of having a heart attack, will be able to be treated at the new centre, built by local company Barnes Construction.

Meanwhile patients needing emergency treatment will still receive care at one of the three regional specialist primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) centres.

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