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Ipswich Hospital's lifesaving heart centre 'has helped thousands of patients' since it opened, say bosses

PUBLISHED: 15:50 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:50 15 February 2017

The Countess of Wessex officially opened the new Heart Centre at Ipswich Hospital back in 2014. 
Inside the Heartbeat Suite. Picture: Lucy Taylor

The Countess of Wessex officially opened the new Heart Centre at Ipswich Hospital back in 2014. Inside the Heartbeat Suite. Picture: Lucy Taylor

Thousands of patients have been given access to lifesaving operations in the years since the new heart centre was built at Ipswich Hospital.

The Countess of Wessex officially opens the new Heart Centre at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: Lucy TaylorThe Countess of Wessex officially opens the new Heart Centre at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: Lucy Taylor

The unit, which opened in 2014 after the Department of Health gave the hospital £5million to pay for its construction, was the subject of the Ipswich Star’s Have a Heart appeal in 2009.

Controversial plans to establish three regional cardiac centres – based at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, and Basildon Hospital in Essex – had prompted concerns for Suffolk patients.

The move meant people needing emergency heart care as well as routine procedures were being forced to travel out of the county for treatment.

Our appeal, backed by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, patient organisation Heartbeat East Suffolk and Star readers managed to secure a review of the proposals, which was conducted by heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle in December 2010.

The signage at The Ipswich Heart Centre at Ipswich Hospital ahead of its official opening.The signage at The Ipswich Heart Centre at Ipswich Hospital ahead of its official opening.

In his report he recommended Ipswich Hospital should have a non-emergency heart centre (PCI) but not an emergency unit.

Just months later, a cash injection from NHS Midlands and East for construction costs meant the centre was able to be built, and it began accepting patients in June 2013.

To this day, hundreds of thousands of people have been treated at the centre, which was officially opened by the Countess of Wessex in 2014.

It allows patients who need planned coronary angioplasty, known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), to be treated at the Heath Road trust in Ipswich.

During the lifesaving operation, patients at risk of a heart attack have their narrowed arteries widened.

Emergency patients continue to receive care at one of the three regional centres for primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI).

Hospital spokeswoman Jan Ingle said Len Tate and his colleagues from Heartbeat, by donating a “tremendous” amount of cash, helped transform the centre’s interior.

Paying tribute to him on behalf of the hospital, she said: “Len Tate has an enormous place in all our hearts for the many years of being so selfless and always understanding what our cardiology patients needed and wanted.

“Every week he would come here, often with his wife and visit anyone in the hospital who had a heart attack to give them help and support.”

Mr Tate’s family paid tribute to him yesterday after it was announced he had died aged 83.

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