Hospitals still care for heart attack patients

I am concerned some readers may have been alarmed by the article in last week’s Observer (‘Heart attack victims sent over the border’).

The article began by stating: “Heart attack patients in the Observer area will continue to be treated at Brighton or Portsmouth hospitals”. Although this statement was clarified somewhat later in the piece it is important to stress that staff at St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals care for people suffering heart attacks, every day, and continue to do so.

That has not changed, and will not change. That applies to people suffering a heart attack at home, in the community, or even while being treated by our staff.

It is the case that heart attack patients who require emergency angioplasty are indeed taken to Portsmouth or Brighton, but this is a minority of patients, and this arrangement has been in place for a number of years.

The only heart attack patients who are not cared for by our trust staff are those people who have suffered this, most severe, type of attack – they are then taken directly by the ambulance service to the regional cardiac centre where the most expert consultant care is available 24 hours a day. Again, this is not remotely new.

I hope readers did not interpret the article as implying heart attack patients would be routinely cared for outside West Sussex – that is not the case.

Indeed, the most significant change to our cardiac care in recent years has been the opening of a new cardiac laboratory in Worthing which allows more people to get high-quality heart care within the county, not less.

Dr Phillip Barnes,

Medical Director

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust