Thousands of patients are to benefit following the opening in April 2004 of a specialist heart diagnosis centre at Westmorland General Hospital.

The state-of-the-art catheter laboratory is now available to patients across Morecambe Bay. The seven bed coronary angiography suite, which boasts the most up-to-date equipment of its type at any hospital in the north of England, means the end of a long trek to Blackpool for patients who need tests to establish if their arteries are blocked. The unit where pacemakers are fitted will be run by Consultant Cardiologists Dr Adrian Brodison and Dr Peter Clarkson.

Patients from Morecambe Bay requiring these types of investigations prior to April had to go to Blackpool or Manchester, which clearly, certainly for the people from the furthest end of the Bay, meant a   significant travel of something in excess of a 50-mile round trip.

Initially it should be possible to treat five patients in a day and it is hoped that around 400 will be seen this year, possibly eventually  increasing to 1,000.

Dr Brodison said the Trust was hoping to recruit more Consultant Cardiologists to expand the work of the lab.

The money for the unit came from Cumbria and Lancashire Strategic Health Authority, Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust and the New Opportunities Fund, which contributed national lottery cash for the specialist equipment.

Extracts from Morecambe Bay NHS Hospitals, NHS Trust Annual Report.

Hilda Preston

Cardiac Specialist Rehabilitation Nurse.