Under a new cross-border agreement, Donegal patients who experience a serious heart attack can be brought straight to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry for certain treatment.
The agreement means that Donegal patients will have access to primary percutaneous coronary invention (pPCI services) around the clock at Altnagelvin.
The service will treat about 50 to 60 Donegal patients each year who suffer a suspected heart attack. Patients within 90 minutes’ road time, who previously would have been transported to University Hospital Galway by road or air, will now be transported to Altnagelvin for emergency treatment.
In addition, a consultant interventional cardiologist employed by the Saolta group has been appointed to Letterkenny University Hospital and will contribute to the delivery of the service from Altnagelvin, participating in the on-call rota.
The cross-border service is to be operational in May of 2016.
The agreement stemmed from a 2013 review of cardiology services in the north west. Among the review’s recommendations was delivery of certain cardiology services from Altnagelvin, including recommending that patients who require pPCI services and are within 90 minutes’ road time of Altnagelvin should be referred to the Derry hospital.
“The proximity of Altnagelvin Hospital to Letterkenny University Hospital provides real opportunities for cooperation between the two hospitals for the benefit of patients through the provision of consolidated, sustainable services,” the report stated.
Following the review, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, in conjunction with the Saolta Group, the Health and Social Care Board and the Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) partnership have worked together toward developing this service.
The agreement was signed by Elaine Way, Western Trust Chief Executive; and Saolta University Health Care Group Chief Executive, Maurice Power.
“This project is another joint effort between the Western Trust and the Saolta Group, and patients from Donegal will also shortly have access to radiotherapy services at Altnagelvin,” Saolta’s Maurice Power said, adding that they looked forward to strengthening links with the Western Trust for patients’ benefit.