Heart service set to be centralised at Conquest

VITAL round-the-clock treatment for certain heart attack patients is soon to be centralised at the Conquest Hospital.

From next April the hospital on The Ridge will be running a 24-hour service for people who suffer STEMI heart attacks, which are more severe.

NHS Sussex, which commissions services to the Conquest, believes this is the safest way patients can be treated.

A procedure called primary angioplasty or primary percutaneous coronary intervention (pPCI) is an emergency treatment used for STEMI heart attacks.This service for patients currently alternates between the Conquest and its sister hospital, Eastbourne DGH, each week and bosses at NHS Sussex want the service to be centralised here in 1066 Country.

Dr Greg Wilcox, Hastings GP and joint medical director of NHS Sussex, said: “If you have a STEMI heart attack there is a better chance you will survive if you receive treatment at a specialist 24/7 centre.

“The NHS in Sussex has been working to ensure if you have this type of heart attack, whatever time of day or night, the ambulance service will take you to a 24/7 site where there is a specialist team. This will give you the best chance of survival and a better long-term prognosis.

“The ambulance service is very clear is it safer for people to travel further to reach a specialist centre. Ambulances are now better equipped to communicate with hospital staff from the moment they are on the scene, sending ECG readings and receiving advice on where to take the patient.

“If patients are unstable in any way, they will be taken to the nearest A&E to be stabilised prior to transfer.

“The pledge to deliver 24/7 heart attack centres across the south east coast area was made by the strategic health authority in 2008 and widely consulted on. Kent and Surrey have already fully implemented this pledge.”

In a STEMI heart attack, the coronary artery is completely blocked off by the blood clot, and as a result virtually all the heart muscle being supplied by the affected artery starts to die.

Dr Wilcox said a 24-hour service for STEMI heart attack patients cannot be maintained at both hospitals because each site would not see sufficient patients to maintain clinicians’ expertise and experience.

He said: “Of the 490,000 East Sussex residents, approximately 235 a year will have a STEMI type heart attack and for approximately 75 per cent of these pPCI will be the most appropriate treatment.

“For the best chance of survival, patients need to receive pPCI within 150 minutes of experiencing a STEMI heart attack. In Sussex, the plan is for pPCI to be delivered within 120 minutes.”