Long journeys end for heart patients

A STATE of the art heart unit at Ipswich hospital looks set to put an end to long journeys for patients in the county.Almost £2 million is to be spent on the new Cardiac Angiography Unit, which will enable Suffolk people to be diagnosed with suspected heart problems without having to travel to the regional centre in Papworth.

By Jessica Nicholls

A STATE of the art heart unit at Ipswich hospital looks set to put an end to long journeys for patients in the county.

Almost £2 million is to be spent on the new Cardiac Angiography Unit, which will enable Suffolk people to be diagnosed with suspected heart problems without having to travel to the regional centre in Papworth.

But patients needing major surgery will still be forced to travel to Papworth hospital because the cost of providing complete heart care would cost too much.

At the moment anyone who doctors suspect is suffering from heart problems has to travel a 160-mile round trip to Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire to be diagnosed.

A report by Chris Dooley, director of finance at Ipswich Hospital highlighted that waiting times at Papworth currently range from five months for urgent cases, up to 11 months for routine cases.

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The new angiography equipment costing around £880,000 has been bought by the New Opportunities Fund.

It is a huge sophisticated x-ray machine that takes detailed images of the heart.

It is hoped the new unit at Ipswich will be up and running by next spring but it was revealed that a ventilation system, which the hospital would have to provide to be able to carry out invasive surgery like this, would cost an extra £400,000.

Nick Coveney, associate director for medicine, highlighted the new scheme at a meeting of the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust.

He said: "We have had a number of patient feedback groups and have also had representation from the British Heart Foundation.

"We have tried to build this around the needs of the patients."