New £5.2m cardiac centre officially opened at West Suffolk Hospital
PUBLISHED: 16:47 11 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:03 12 December 2018
The "amazing" fundraising efforts of the community have been hailed after a multi-million pound cardiac centre was officially opened at West Suffolk Hospital.
An appeal to raise £500,000 towards the centre – backed by this newspaper – will see the Bury St Edmunds hospital transform the heart healthcare it can provide to patients.
The Every Heart Matters appeal was the biggest ever undertaken by the hospital’s My WiSH Charity and has so far raised more than £460,000.
The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has invested £5.2m in developing the cardiac suite which for the first time can offer additional procedures like angiography and pacemakers to patients.
The money raised by My WiSH has gone towards the new lower-ground floor unit at the hospital – which sees the cardiology ward, cardiac care unit and cardiac diagnostics unit brought together.
Previously each area was located in different parts of the hospital.
Famous jockey and My WiSH ambassador Franke Dettori, who launched the Every Heart Matters appeal last year, returned today to open the unit.
He said: “What an amazing achievement. The local community really stepped up to show their support to ensure great new facilities in our local hospital.
“Well done and thank you to everyone for supporting the appeal. I’m so impressed by the new space; we’re a very lucky community to have it.”
The trust used to only be able to offer angiograms once-a-week – on a mobile unit that visited the hospital car park.
The new centre now hosts a modern catheterisation lab, enabling the trust to carry out a combination of diagnostic angiograms and pacemaker procedures five-days-a-week.
The trust says this means better care and reduced waiting times for patients and reduced pressure on other centres where patients were once referred. Dr Pegah Salahshouri, cardiology consultant at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, has been instrumental in bringing the centre to fruition.
“I am so proud of the hard work and dedication of the multiple teams who have been involved in creating the new cardiac centre,” she said.
“It is a fantastic space and means we can offer our patients a fully integrated cardiac service and much improved care here in west Suffolk.
“I’m a pacing specialist so when I started working at the trust it made no sense for me to have those abilities but not be able to provide them here. “I originally asked for a slot in theatres but was invited to make the case for a new unit.
“The hospital’s cardiology department has seen a 23% increase in patient demand over the last five years, therefore it made so much sense to invest in this.
“Bringing together our cardiac care unit, cardiology inpatient ward and cardiac diagnostics unit, enables a much more efficient way of working for our staff and better continuity of care for our patients.
“We are now one team, sharing the same space and no longer spread out across the hospital. More importantly we can now provide a combination of elective and non-elective angiography and pacemaker surgery procedures to our local residents.”
The money raised for the Every Heart Matters appeal has come from a variety of fundraisers from all over the west Suffolk area through charity swims to long distance running and from bingo nights to clay shoots and raffles.
Sue Smith, head of fundraising for My WiSH Charity, thanked everyone who has donated since the appeal was launched.
“This is the biggest appeal My WiSH has undertaken to date and the appeal funds have ensured that diagnostic tests like echocardiograms can also be done in the same place – rather than two floors above, which is where diagnostics used to be,” she said.
“I thank Frankie and our many donors for the support and funds you have raised for the appeal, you have been working so hard to help us reach our £500,000 target, and we could not have done this without you.”
Steve Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Developing new services and facilities like this are a huge undertaking. “Many members of staff are involved in various stages and their sheer dedication and determination to succeed are a real credit to them.
“We now have a wonderful new space, and more importantly can provide new and improved services for our patients.”
People can still donate to the appeal by visiting www.justgiving.com/ehma or text EHMA17 £10 to 70070.