Lister’s new 24/7 heart attack service proves its worth

Following an investment of £1.2 million in the recruitment of additional specialist staff required, the Lister’s Hertfordshire Cardiology Centre has been providing primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) – the gold standard treatment for those with heart attacks – 24 hours a day since 28 April 2014.  In that time, a total of 34 local people have been treated – of whom 21 received their care out-of-hours (i.e. overnight or at weekends).

Prior to 28 April, the service was available Monday to Fridays only, between 9.00am to 5.00pm.  Outside of these hours, ambulances attending patients having a heart attack took them to Papworth hospital in Cambridgeshire or Harefield in North-west London.

The new service means that when someone has a heart attack within the Trust’s catchment, they can always have emergency life-saving treatment locally.  Providing this 24/7 service means that the Hertfordshire Cardiology Centre team is delivering on a long-held ambition to provide local people with this highly specialist service whenever it is needed.

Professor Diana Gorog, the Trust’s clinical director for cardiology, said:

“The whole department is very excited that we can now offer this vital, life-saving service to the people of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire every minute of every day.  Having rapid access to a local PPCI service, rather than being transported to another centre around an hour away, will give those suffering from a heart attack not only a greater chance of surviving, but will also reduce the amount of heart muscle damage and thus improve quality of life.”

Reports from the Royal College of Physicians shows that the Hertfordshire Cardiology Centre is making sure people who have a heart attack get that specialist treatment quickly.  It is now among the top 15% in England for treating patients within 90 minutes of arrival in hospital.  That means patients have a better chance of survival thanks to the Trust’s specialist team at the Lister and also to the quick work of colleagues from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust in stabilising patients and getting them into hospital quickly.

The Hertfordshire Cardiology Centre was expanded significantly just over two years ago at a cost of £4.5 million, when it provided a weekday, 9.00am to 5.00pm heart attack service.  Patients needing treatment outside those times were usually taken by ambulance to either Harefield or Papworth.  As of 28 April 2014, following the investment of £1.2 million in additional specialist medical, nursing and technical staff required to run the service, it became available 24/7.

Nick Carver, Trust chief executive said:

“The Hertfordshire Cardiology Centre is just one of the many successful projects at the Lister that demonstrate the Trust’s ambition to improve even further specialist inpatient and emergency care for local people.  It is also a great example of the improvements in the quality of treatments that our staff can provide to their patients when such specialist services are brought together on to a single site.

“This approach is at the heart of our current programme of hospital changes, which is seeing some £150 million being invested to create the new Lister hospital in to the centre for specialist care for everyone living across east and north Hertfordshire, as well as parts of Bedfordshire.  The new hospital will be ready by October 2014.”