Regional publisher Archant is celebrating the success of a drive by two key titles to keep elective heart services in Ipswich
The new facility at Ipswich Hospital was unveiled by Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex.
The Department of Health granted the hospital £5 million to pay for the building of the new centre after NHS Midlands and East put in a bid for the funding.
Terry Hunt, Archant Suffolk Editor-in-Chief, said: “The Royal visit was the culmination of three years of determined campaigning by the people of east Suffolk, led by the Ipswich Star and the East Anglian Daily Times.
“The original plan would have seen all heart patients face long journeys to either Norwich or south Essex for their treatment, which clearly would have been unacceptable. Thanks to the Have a Heart campaign, Suffolk heart patients can still receive treatment locally.’’
The Star first launched the Have a Heart appeal in 2009 after it uncovered controversial plans to establish three regional cardiac centres – at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth in Cambridgeshire, and Basildon in Essex.
The move meant patients needing emergency heart care as well as routine procedures were forced to travel out of the county for treatment.
The Star and its co-campaigners secured a review of the proposals by heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle.
In December 2010 he recommended that Ipswich Hospital should have a non-emergency heart centre but not the emergency unit.
The new centre allows patients who need planned coronary angioplasty – known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – to be treated in Ipswich.
Emergency patients will continue to receive care at one of the three regional centres for primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI).
The countess toured the unit, greeting dignitaries including Ipswich mayor Hamil Clarke, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and Mr Gummer, as well as heart specialists, nurses and patients, before unveiling a plaque.
Her Royal Highness said: “Congratulations to all of you. What an impressive department you have and I have no doubt that the many patients who will be undergoing procedures here will be hugely and eternally grateful.
“The attention to detail with mood lighting and music says it all.”