60 Donegal heart attack patients per year will be rushed to Altnagelvin

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The 50-60 people who suffer a heart attack in Donegal each year will from next month be rushed to a state-of-the-art new cardio unit in Altnagelvin rather than being medivaced by air or land all the way to Galway after a landmark cross-border agreement was signed on Thursday, April 7.

From May 2016 any heart attack patients living within 90 minutes of Altnagelvin will be taken to the 24/7 primary Percutaneous Coronary Invention (pPCI Services) unit at the Londonderry hospital.

The co-signing of a comprehensive cross border Service Level Agreement by Western Trust Chief Executive, Elaine Way and Saolta University Health Care Group Chief Executive, Maurice Power, providing for this, has been welcomed by both parties.

Western Trust Chief Executive, Elaine Way said: “We are delighted to be working cooperatively with our cross border colleagues in Saolta University Health Care Group as we work towards enhancing cardiology services for patients living in County Donegal.

“The new service, which will be delivered by our exceptional cardiac intervention team, will provide real benefit to heart attack patients through rapid access to high quality, life-saving services.”

Saolta Group Chief Executive, Maurice Power stated: “This project is another joint effort between the Western Trust and the Saolta Group and patients from Donegal will also shortly have access to Radiotherapy services at Altnagelvin. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our links with the Western Trust for the benefit of all of our patients.”

The service will treat approximately 50-60 Donegal patients each year who suffer a suspected ST-Elevation Myocardial infarction (heart attack). Heart attack patients within 90 minutes road time, who previously would have been transported to University Hospital Galway by road or air, will now be transported the shorter distance to Altnagelvin Hospital for emergency treatment. Furthermore, a Consultant Interventional Cardiologist employed by the Saolta Group, has been appointed to Letterkenny University Hospital and will contribute to the delivery of the pPCI service from Altnagelvin, participating in the on-call rota.

The first-of-its-kind cross border service, which will be operational in May 2016 is the result of a review of Cardiology Services in the North West area, completed in 2013 and chaired by Dr Colm Henry. The review made several recommendations regarding the delivery of cardiology services in the region, in particular, the delivery of certain services from Altnagelvin Hospital. One of the recommendations in the report included; Patients requiring pPCI who are within 90 minutes road time from Altnagelvin should be referred to Altnagelvin, once the 24/7 pPCI unit is established.

The report also stated that, ‘the proximity of Altnagelvin Hospital to Letterkenny University Hospital provides real opportunities for cooperation between the two hospitals for the benefit of patients through the provision of consolidated, sustainable services’. Following the review, the Western Trust in conjunction with the Saolta Group, Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) partnership, have been working towards developing this service which will provide real benefit to heart attack patients.