An expansion to the cardiology service at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness means as many as 400 patients a year will no longer need to travel out with the Highland area for cardiac treatment.
Patients requiring percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – the process of putting balloons and Stents into patient’s arteries to open up narrowings that can cause a heart attack or angina – can now be treated in Inverness following the setting up of the PCI service in Inverness.
Professor Steve Leslie is one of two interventional cardiologists working for NHS Highland. He said: “This is great news for the patients in Highland. By having this service here in Inverness our patients won’t have to travel to another centre such as Aberdeen or Edinburgh. They’ll be treated locally, be seen more quickly and they will get the procedure done by doctors who they know and are familiar with.
“We have been preparing for this for a while. Dr Jamie Smith who joined Raigmore last year after a specialist Fellowship in Canada in PCI is the other interventional cardiologist and we have been going to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary regularly to carry out these procedures. Senior nurse Isobel Adams, who has worked in one of the biggest PCI centres in the UK, brings a wealth of nursing expertise to the role and the cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in Aberdeen, along with the North of Scotland Planning Group, have and continue to be very supportive.”
The service will run during normal working hours throughout the week so some patients will still have to travel if they need to be treated at weekends or out of hours but for the majority they can be treated closer to home.
Frederick Falconer, age 70 from Inverness was one of the first patients to receive PCI in Inverness. He said: “You can’t help but worry when you know you need to have this done and having to travel away from your local area just adds to any anxiety you already feel.
“I did actually take the trip to Aberdeen in March to get this procedure done. However, my health deteriorated quite badly and I wasn’t fit for it to happen. I spent a lot of time in hospital after this, both in Aberdeen and in Inverness and I did not relish the idea of having to make that journey again.
“I had the procedure done in Raigmore Hospital on the 19th May and immediately noticed a big difference. I walk a fair bit and even though it’s not been long since I was treated I find this a lot easier now, I can breathe better.
“I am very grateful that I was able to have this done locally, not having to travel as far was a huge weight off my mind. It is a blessing for the people in the Highlands.”
Professor Leslie said: “Highland has such a remote and dispersed population which itself presents a challenge but with the development of the PCI service we are now able to provide a higher level of cardiac care to our patients.”