Heartfelt thanks paid as residents' support means hospital unit is ready to go
A much-loved heart doctor has thanked residents for supporting his campaign to further improve facilities at the borough's cardiac unit.
Dr Nayyar Naqvi’s Heart Beat 2 initiative - launched by the Observer in 2013 - has achieved its six-figure fund-raising target and work on a new recovery suite is hoped to begin soon.
The campaign’s success is yet another feather in the cap for Dr Naqvi who has played such a prominent role in developing the town’s nationally renowned Cardiac Care Unit over more than 30 years.
The new facility was granted planning permission in 2015 and hospital bosses are now waiting for permission for a couple of design tweaks before construction can start.
Speaking to the Observer, Dr Naqvi said: “I am most grateful to the public of Wigan and Leigh for the tremendous help they have given us over the past few years regarding my drive to establish an extension to our Cardiac Catheter Unit.
“Carolyn Dereskiewicz, our Matron, and I have worked very hard to achieve this goal and finally we have reached the target we set out.
“Barring a few administrative problems which need to be sorted there is no hurdle left to cross and soon we will be putting the spade in the ground to start building the extension.
“It is the undying ambition of the Cardiac Department of the WWL Foundation Trust to offer the very best service to all its patients.”
Launched in 2013, the Heart Beat 2 campaign aimed to raise funds for the new facility, recreating Dr Naqvi’s original initiative, Heart Beat, which raised vital funds for the heart unit.
The project to build the Catheter Laboratory Discharge Lounge had stalled last year due to an under-estimation of how much the facility would cost.
But kind-hearted borough residents responded admirably to Dr Naqvi’s push for extra donations and the financial target has finally been reached.
A statement from bosses at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have now achieved the funds for the building of the extension to the Cardiac Catheter laboratory which will commence building work imminently.
“WWL would like to give sincere thanks to the public of Wigan and Leigh and surrounding areas for responding so enthusiastically to the Heartbeat 2 Appeal and helping us to achieve our goal.
The public of Wigan can still donate to the Heart and Lungs fund by texting HLRFOI and the amount you wish to donate to 70070.”
Dr Naqvi had previously explained to the Observer that patients in the past would have cardiac catheters inserted in the groin area that would mean they would have to recover in a ward bed.
But now the procedure is done through the radial artery in the wrist, meaning recovery can be seated, with the new lounge providing the perfect environment for this process.
The one-storey suite will be attached to the existing CCU unit and council officers have ear-marked May 25 for a decision on the planning tweaks.
If approval is granted, which is expected, construction work could then start within a matter of weeks.
Dr Naqvi OBE, who was honoured with a star on the council’s Walk of Fame outside the life centre in 2013, added: “We look forward with great anticipation to providing another excellent space to improve the care of our patients who have had a cardiac catheter from the radial artery in the wrist.
“The new build will ensure they sit in comfortable surroundings after their catheterisation and be provided with privacy and dignity.
Speaking to the Observer last year Dr Naqvi said he hoped the new facility would be finished in 2017 as, now aged in his 70s, he was starting to consider his options with full retirement.
He said: “We have received such tremendous support from the people of Wigan and Leigh.
“I only work two days a week now, I was single handed for 12 years (at the start) and we now have nine cardiologists here.
“One more year is what I would like.
“I love my job and I love my patients, I have just seen a patient I first treated in 1983.”