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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Patient pays tribute to heart centre for emergency life-saving treatment

Patient pays tribute to heart centre for emergency life-saving treatment

Posted on Monday 19th August 2013
michael and caroline

Michael Kennedy (PCI Coordinator) and Caroline Shaw (Sister in The Heart Centre)

A patient has paid tribute to staff at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle after having emergency life-saving treatment in The Heart Centre, a month after the 24/7 service launched.

Michael Hall from Bardon Mill in Northumberland, was on a community archaeology group dig in Alston on Saturday 3 August when he started to get chest pains. He thought he perhaps needed something to eat but the pains were getting worse and he had to lie down on the grass. Mr Hall said: “There is a retired GP in the group and he called an ambulance. community first responders came and then paramedics arrived. They called an air ambulance as they thought it would take too long to drive me to Carlisle.

“The air ambulance crew were excellent and when we arrived at The Heart Centre I remember the team were all ready and waiting for me. I was taken straight to the lab for Primary PCI treatment and then up to the Coronary Care Unit where I stayed for four days. The staff were all absolutely excellent.

“I am feeling reasonably well now and I’m attending a follow-up appointment next week. It came as such a shock to me as I have never had anything like this before and lead a healthy lifestyle - I wasn’t aware I had any health problems at all. I didn’t realise the Primary PCI service had only just started at the Cumberland Infirmary – I’m certainly glad it is there.”

Cumbria’s first Primary PCI service launched on 8 July 2013 with ambulances now taking patients in north Cumbria (including West Cumbria), who are having an immediately life-threatening heart attack directly to The Heart Centre for assessment and treatment. The centre is now open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and within the first month there have been 29 Primary PCI patients – more than was anticipated.

Since North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s Heart Centre opened in November 2011, hundreds of patients with heart disease have benefitted from much quicker diagnosis and treatment than was previously available.

Primary PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) is used to treat an ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) which is a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked. STEMI patients who were previously treated with clot buster drug therapy are now instead receiving emergency PCI or angioplasty treatment. During an acute STEMI, every second counts. There is a direct relationship between the amount of time a heart artery is blocked and the severity of the heart attack and odds of survival.

Caroline Shaw, Sister in the Heart Centre, said: “The benefits of Primary PCI treatment include reducing the patients’ length of stay by up to two days, reducing mortality from life-threatening heart attacks by up to 50% and producing a better long-term outcome for the general health of the patient.

“The expansion of the Heart Centre and the new 24/7 service has allowed the whole of cardiology in the Trust to develop and move forward – everybody has worked together as a team to make this a success. We have recruited a number of new staff who are in post now and we have another new interventional cardiologist starting next week. In addition, a Primary PCI Coordinator role has been introduced to manage patient pathways.”

Michael Kennedy, a member of the senior nursing team on the Coronary Care Unit, is one of the Primary PCI Coordinators in the Cumberland Infirmary. Primary PCI Coordinators take referrals directly from the ambulance service, air ambulance, GP practices, A&E and any other area in the hospital who may be concerned that one of their patients is having a STEMI.

Michael explains: “I am an experienced coronary care nurse who specialises in ECG interpretation and rhythm analysis. This means that I can assess patients and on the basis of my interpretation of their ECG, I will call the Primary PCI team in if required.

“The team consists of a consultant cardiologist, a cardiac physiologist, a radiographer and two cath lab nurses. If the team is needed out-of-hours, they are on-call. I look after the patient until the team arrives and escort them safely to the lab for treatment. The new round-the-clock service is a huge benefit to the north Cumbria as patients are receiving the emergency care they need much quicker and closer to home.”