Heart centre at Basildon Hospital reveals plans for future

Basildon’s heart specialist centre has plans to grow to attract patients from outside of Essex.

Dr Stuart Harris, a leading cardiologist at the Basildon cardiology centre, said he wanted to grow services into Suffolk, Norfolk and even Kent.

Since its creation in 2007 the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) has provided specialist treatment and care for people with heart or lung problems.

The CTC has four state-of-the-art operating theatres, three cardiac catheter laboratories, a critical care ward with 22 beds, a surgical ward with 32 beds, a cardiology ward with 28 beds, and a day ward for people who do not need to stay in hospital overnight following their procedure.

Dr Harris said: “We are not a new centre. We have been open since 2007 and a cohort of us who set up the unit all came from Barts and the London Chest.

“We had jobs before we came to Essex to set up the centre and we have grown ever since in number and outcomes in number in patients.

“We think we are an attractive place to work.

“We obviously have two natural threats – one is the Royal Papworth now it has moved to Addenbrooke’s and particularly because it becomes easier access – particularly if you are a Harlow patient.

“And the other is the biggest cardiothoracic centre in Europe, which is Barts.

“We know that. We have a strategy in place. We think there are bigger markets outside Essex.

“We think we offer a fantastic service for the population of Essex and that is what we were constructed to provide. And that will always be the top of the agenda.

“But we want to grow bigger than that – we have developed relationships with Ipswich and we are developing relationships with Norfolk and Norwich particularly from a surgical point of view.

“And we have improved communications across the Thames and suddenly north Kent becomes a different kettle of fish.”

The hospital is already key in a new hospital strategy for mid and south Essex by providing specialist cardio services.

The plans, which were carried after a lengthy consultation and werefinally approved by the government in July, will include the consolidation of emergency vascular surgery at Basildon Hospital and the transfer of spinal surgery from Basildon Hospital to Southend Hospital.

The plans also involve offering patients at Basildon and Southend hospitals waiting for a hip or knee operation the option of being treated at Braintree Community Hospital and an emergency out-of-hours interventional radiology service to be consolidated at a hub based at Basildon Hospital.

Dr Harris said: “We need to be able to compete with the units that are traditionally bigger than us in size.

“And we do that by growing in ourselves. We are developing a more complex research programme so we start to develop a national and internal standing.

“We have members that sit on national committees, we present our research at various meetings.

“Angioplasty for example we are the most productive unit in the country for the number of cases that go through compared to the resources we have.

“And our outcomes are second to none.

“We do attract the right people but its about creating the right culture within the hospital. “

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter