Heart clinic at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire here to stay
HEALTH bosses have pledged that the future of an award-winning hospital service is safe despite moving it for the third time in two years.
Patients had voiced fears that the heart failure clinic was under threat because it has not yet been given a permanent home at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
The initiative – led by nurses – stops people with the newly-diagnosed condition needing to spend long and often inconvenient spells on the hospital's beds.
Instead its eight staff treat patients, and then monitor their progress, as day cases so they can return home at nights. The clinic was started in 2011 in the hospital's West Building near the A34 and was soon seeing 30 new patients a month.
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Then it was moved to the City General site's 25-year-old surgical block, the Lyme Building, which will next month start a £50 million redevelopment to take in different services.
That means the clinic must be switched to the hospital's four-year-old cancer centre.
But that move will only be temporary to buy time for officials to search for a permanent location.
Grandmother Sue Bailey, aged 60, of Blythe Bridge, needs to attend the clinic most days to control her heart failure.
She said: "This is a nationally recognised service which is the envy on many other areas but appears to be threatened by being merged for three to six months with the cancer service.
"It makes such a difference to patients suffering from this horrible illness who I am sure will be very worried by classifying it with cancer services. The ward where it is now is ideal and has already been refurbished.
"I, as a patient, feel very strongly about the great service I receive.
"If the hospital wants to stop us worrying they should tell us exactly where it is to finish up."
The successive moves have been needed because the clinic was developed after plans were drawn up to transform the complex into a £400 million superhospital with specific locations agreed for all other services.
But Charlotte Aston, directorate manager for heart and lung services, said: "We are extremely proud of this excellent service and we will ensure patient care and experience is not affected by this move. This is a very new service and we look forward to finding a suitable high standard permanent facility once the re-developments of the site are complete."
Before the scheme was launched some heart patients were languishing for weeks in hospital and had to put their lives on hold.
It has already picked up a prestigious Nursing Times award in the cardiac nursing category. Called the SHINE (Support and Help in Education) prize it won the team a £75,000 grant.
The service, which runs in tandem with similar clinics in community health centres, has also led to regular visits from experts from other hospitals keen to copy it for their own patients.
It is one of a number of treatment developments credited with making North Staffordshire one of the few places in Britain where heart disease is not the biggest cause of death.