London Chest Hospital’s heart attack survival rates buck NHS national trend

Those are the findings of the British Medical Journal looking into survival rates at the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green.

The findings buck the national trend revealed last week when research by Dr Foster found the death rate 10 per cent higher at weekends for NHS patients who undergo emergency treatment.

The stark contrast at the specialist heart and chest centre is due to round-the-clock rostas where consultants are on duty Saturdays and Sundays as well as weekdays.

The hospital, despite fewer weekend staff, has a consultant available 24 hours a day to treat heart attack patients.

“It’s not about having the same number of staff as weekdays,” explained cardiovascular director Dr Charles Knight. “It is about having a consultant and a specialist team available who can greet patients the minute they arrive and begin work on them.”

The study found 3,347 patients who underwent coronary angioplasty surgery at weekends had just as good a prognosis up to three years after treatment as those undergoing surgery during the week.

But the survival rate relies heavily on ambulance paramedics “doing their bit”, Barts Health Trust admits.

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That involves performing ECGs in the ambulance to confirm whether patients have suffered a heart attack and bringing them straight to the Chest Hospital.

Dr Knight added: “Having a senior person on duty, despite reduced weekends staffing, is the crucial factor.”

But the London Chest is on the cards to close next year as the Barts NHS trust battles to meet a £77.5 million deficit. Its specialist services are soon being transferred to St Bartholemew’s in the City.