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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Work on Cumbrian heart centre extension to begin

Work will begin within days on an extension to Cumberland Infirmary’s pioneering heart centre.

Caroline Shaw photo
Caroline Shaw

The unit has only been up and running at the Carlisle hospital for little more than a year, but on Monday work will begin to extend the building.

Hospitals bosses had always hoped to extend the hours of the centre, which currently only operates during the daytime, predominantly dealing with routine cases but occasionally operating in an emergency.

A recruitment operation is also underway to find the extra staff required to turn it into a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week service.

Vacancies include positions for healthcare assistants, registered nurses, cardiac psychologists, radiographers, registrars and two consultants.

The extended heart centre is expected to be open in the spring, and will include emergency angioplasty treatment for patients who are having an immediately life-threatening heart attack. These patients are currently treated with a clot-busting injection (thrombolysis), before eventually undergoing the surgery elsewhere.

Caroline Shaw, lead nurse for the Heart Centre, said: “We are delighted to be expanding both the service and the cardiology team, which will benefit even more patients in north Cumbria.”

Staff are also continuing to undertake training, which includes rotating between the Heart Centre, coronary care unit and cardiology ward to allow them to share their experience ahead of the integration of the services.

Since the centre opened at the end of November 2011, more than 2,000 patients have been treated.

Before the service began, people suffering from angina or heart attacks were assessed at the infirmary or West Cumberland Hospital, in Whitehaven, but had to be transferred to Newcastle, Middlesbrough or Blackpool hospitals for further treatment.

Doctors in Cumbria felt the two-hour journey was putting lives at risk, as people with heart disease benefit from quick diagnosis and treatment.

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