Heart patients at Wigan Infirmary can now benefit from a new £320,000 recovery facility funded entirely from public donations.
An extension to the existing Cardiac Catheter Laboratory at the hospital trust’s Wigan Lane site has been official opened for use following 18 months of building work and equipment installation.
The discharge lounge, which is complete with a large screen television, therapy chairs and a private consultation room, started life almost five years ago as a new idea from consultant cardiologist Dr Nayyar Naqvi.
“I thought to myself ‘I don’t want my patients sitting in a hard chair with people walking past them all the time’.
“There was no privacy, it was not fair for patients to be sitting in the ward with consultants coming to tell them what’s happening. It should be in privacy for the patient. I knew it had to change.”
The new extension includes a private consultation room as well as chairs designed for patients to sit in comfort for up to 10 hours while they recover from their procedure.
“These chairs are adaptable for the patient,” said Carolyn Dereszkiewicz, head of nursing. “They can either sit upright if they are having a meal or they will practically fully recline.
“They are designed to provide comfort with pressure relieving material which is comfortable on their skin.
“By extending our Cardiac Catheter Laboratory facilities we will be enhancing our patients’ experience and ensuring a patient’s dignity and confidentiality continues to be maintained at all times.”
A large television is also set to be installed on the wall for patients to watch while they wait to be discharged and a parking bay outside will see the end to long walks back through the hospital to the car park.
Dr Naqvi has thanked the general public for their “overwhelming generosity” towards the “Heart Beat Two” campaign, the fund-raising appeal which turned his dream into a reality.
Since moving to Billinge Hospital as a junior doctor in 1979, Dr Naqvi has worked to revolutionise the way in which heart problems are treated within the borough.
He set up his first public fund-raising appeal in 1981, which eventually paid for the first Cardiac Catheter Unit in the history of Wigan Infirmary.
“The public paid for everything, all the equipment, the pillows, pillowcases, bed sheets,” said Dr Naqvi. “Everything came from that.
“When I came to Wigan, we were a very deprived area. People were dying from heart disease and no one on the outside was looking after that.
“Now there’s not a single patient with rheumatic heart disease in Wigan. We have sorted all of that out and we have reduced the deaths from coronary heart disease.
"Although we have always been higher than the UK mortality, we started from a much higher base and we have almost equalled the rest of the country.
“This wouldn’t be without the public of Wigan. We are so grateful to them and owe them a serious debt of gratitude for the tremendous generosity they have shown to us, since 1979.”
The charity has also been chosen as Wigan Golf Club’s charity of the year.