30/01/2019 | Press releases

Plans submitted for new IRCA department at Colchester Hospital

Patients will be able to be treated more quickly in a more modern environment at Colchester Hospital if £7million plans to improve and replace outdated facilities are approved.

The development of a combined interventional radiology and cardiac angiography (IRCA) unit will mean patients served by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) will be able to benefit from quicker diagnosis and care in a specialist suite.

A planning application has been submitted to demolish and relocate the hospital’s bed store to make way for the two-storey unit, which will be sandwiched between the main building and restaurant block.

Prof Sankaran Chandrasekharan, clinical director for diagnostic imaging at Colchester Hospital, said:

Many patients with peripheral vascular disease and other major diseases like aortic aneurysms can be treated without an open operation by using modern techniques of interventional radiology and this suite will provide an excellent place to do this. Many diagnostic investigations, such as a biopsy using ultrasound guidance, will be done here to facilitate quicker diagnosis and planning of treatments.

Working together with the Heart Centre at Ipswich Hospital and the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre in Basildon, the new facility will ensure that local patients requiring cardiac procedures are cared for in the most appropriate setting for their condition. Both interventional radiology procedures and cardiac angiography procedures will be performed in this suite and the majority will be day cases.

This suite will mean we’re able to treat our patients in a dedicated, fully equipped unit with a specialist medical, radiology and nursing team providing each of these services.

Staff on the unit will be able to carry out a range of invasive radiological procedures, usually involving the insertion of a needle, cannula, catheter or wire into the patient for diagnosis and/or treatment. This type of minimally invasive technique will reduce the level of risk to the patient, meaning they spend less time in hospital and can recover quicker.

As well as providing facilities for cardiac angiography, the new unit will also be used for state of the art MRI conditional pacemaker implants, injectable loop recorder implants with remote follow up capabilities, cardioversions and TOE (trans oesophageal echocardiography) procedures.

The proposed IRCA unit will include three interventional rooms fitted with specialist x-ray equipment, as well as patient admission and recovery areas and staff facilities. Its position on the first floor of the hospital is a much more appropriate location in terms of its closeness and travel time to other departments.

Nick Chatten, ESNEFT’s acting Director of Estates and Facilities, said:

This is a much needed clinical facility bringing together two departments, which will replace existing outdated buildings and equipment. This will lead to a more efficient service with greater accessibility for both our staff and patients.

The existing interventional radiology facilities are in the Alpha Suite X-Ray department off the main ground floor corridor, while cardiac angiography is next to Elmstead Day Unit. Patients for both services follow similar care pathways and both services use similar angiography technologies.

A use of the ground floor space of the unit has not yet been confirmed, but its location at the heart of the hospital makes it a potentially important clinical area. As part of the ground floor redevelopment, the link corridor between the main building and Constable Wing will be rebuilt.

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