Over 550 heart attack patients treated in Derry

Group pictured three years ago as the Cath Labs at Altnagelvin Hospital opened.
Group pictured three years ago as the Cath Labs at Altnagelvin Hospital opened.

Over 550 heart attack patients from both sides of the border have had potentially life-saving operations at Altnagelvin Hospital, the Western Trust has confirmed.

The primary Percutaneous Coronary Invention Service was introduced at Altnagelvin three years ago this month, with the cross-border cardiology service added in May 2016.

To date over 60 people from Donegal who live within 90 minutes travel time to Derry have been taken to Altnagelvin Hospital for surgery.

Prior to the service opening in Derry, patients in the Western Trust area had to be transferred to Belfast for surgery, while in Donegal heart attack patients had to be taken to Galway or Dublin.

The 24/7 service at Altnagelvin means patients suffering from a heart attack are taken immediately to a catheterisation laboratory (Cath Lab) to have a blockage in the blood vessels around their heart removed using a balloon or stent.

A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust confirmed to the ‘Journal’: “There has been a total number of 551 patients treated for Primary Percutaneous Coronary Invention (pPCI Services) at Altnagelvin Hospital since its commencement on September 15, 2014.

“Out of this total, 61 patients have been part of the cross border cardiology service.

“This is a fantastic service which provides rapid access to high quality, life-saving treatment for patients living in Co. Donegal, throughout the Western Trust area and part of the Northern Trust area.”

The 24/7 cross-border clinical service commenced on May 4, 2016 with the co-signing of a comprehensive cross border service level agreement by the Western Trust and Saolta University Health Care Group (Saolta).

The first of its kind cross border service was the result of a review of cardiology services in the North West area, completed in 2013.

The new figures come just a month after the ‘Journal’ revealed that over 200 people from both sides of the border have now been treated at the new North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The Western Trust confirmed at the time that over recent months, the hugely impressive £66m facility has, for the first time, treated lung, bowel, bone and bladder cancer patients.