New heart attack treatment wins recognition

Monday, 11 October, 2010

SECAmb's David Davis accepts the award on behalf of the SECAmb team with fellow clinicians from East Kent Hospitals University Trust.

A new approach to treating heart attack patients in Kent has won recognition at the NHS South East Coast region's Best of Health Awards.

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust was the winning finalist and a runner-up in the regional award category - 'outstanding contribution to the South East Coast regional vision - Healthier people, excellent care.'

SECAmb's winning entry was awarded to its Clinical Pathways Team and was a joint entry submitted with East Kent Hospitals University Trust for the introduction of the Kent Primary Angioplasty Service.

The pathway has also been shortlisted for a prestigious Health Service Journal award in the Partnership Working Award category.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust's and SECAmb's pathway, developed with the Kent Cardiac Network, sees patients who have suffered a heart attack being taken directly to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford to receive primary angioplasty - a procedure to unblock an artery carrying blood to the heart.

SECAmb's Stroke Team and its implementation of the fast-track stroke pathway was also a runner-up in the same regional category and was the Trust was cited as a key component of the third entry in the category - the Stroke/Telemedicine Service at East Kent Hospitals.

David Davis said: "We were thrilled to finish as winners and runners up in the category. The angioplasty project involved collaboration with a range of teams from across organisations in the region. The award represents the hard work of an enormous team of people in pursuit of excellent care for heart attack patients. It was also an honour that our stroke team was presented with a runner-up award. These are both real team efforts and the dedication of my colleagues, in particular, Clive Butler, Sharon Huckstepp and Carl Egan, in implementing these initiatives, was second to none."

The new 24/7 primary angioplasty treatment was introduced at the hospital in April and is provided to patients across Kent.

With angioplasty a patient is given local anaesthetic and a small balloon is inserted via an artery in the groin or arm and guided to the blockage. Once in place, the balloon is inflated and removed, leaving behind a rigid 'stent' which allows blood to flow through.

David Davis said: "This life-saving procedure is the gold standard treatment for certain heart attack patients and to see the impact it is having on patients in our region is great. It not only reduces the time patients spend in hospital, it can save more lives."

Ambulance clinicians now diagnose a heart attack by carry out an ECG on the patient, before transmitting the reading to the cardiac unit at the hospital.

If suitable, the patient is transported to the unit where the cardiac team is waiting to carry out the procedure.
Before this new service was introduced, patients who suffered a heart attack may have been given pre hospital thrombolysis, a clot busting drug, by paramedics. However, new evidence has shown primary angioplasty for the majority of heart attacks saves more lives and has a better long-term prognosis.

It is estimated that in a 12-month period, about 600 to 1,000 people in Kent will access the service.

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