UK's first vascular and interventional centre opens in Northwick Park Hospital
PUBLISHED: 14:44 01 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:54 01 July 2019
The UK's first high tech state-of-the art vascular centre has opened at Northwick Park Hospital - a revoluntionary lifesaver for Brent's frailest patients.
The West London Vascular and Interventional Centre officially opened on the 7th floor of the Watford Road hospital on June 25 offering a "one stop shop" for heart patients, diabetics, and those with artery diseases.
The hospital's London North West Healthcare Charity gave £1.5million to the project - its biggest ever donation.
Mayors from across Brent, Ealing and Harrow were among dignitaries who attended to cut the ribbon, along with clinicians from Europe.
The unit is the first place in the country that brings together "bitter rivals" vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists, who will share their skills to create "a new breed" of endovascular specialists.
Operations with long recovery times such as aneurysms, blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and lower limb ischemia which results in hundreds of foot amputations will now see patients return home on the same day with their limbs intact.
The programme's visionary, clinical director Martin Malina, said: "Arrive in the morning, have high tech treatment during the day, go home in the evening. It's basically that - this is where we are."
As reported in the Times, Harrow and Brent were the two highest risk areas for type two diabetes in 2015. A year later, Brent topped the chart for the highest obesity-related hospital admissions in the capital.
There are about 1.2m people who live in this area of London that the unit will serve - the equivalent of about five boroughs.
Currently, centres treating people with vascular issues are "clustered" in central London. But now patients who once had to go from one to another depending on their complex needs will be repatriated to Northwick Park.
"The advanced institutions all sit in the so-called congestion area of London. I don't think it's quite fair to the people who live here," said Prof Malina.
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"In order to be able to offer them top treament we cannot have this many centres who do a bit of this and a bit of that. We need a hub that can offer it all but interact wisely with hospitals in this part of London.
These are people who smoke the most, who have the most diabetes, the most vascular diseases - they deserve a vascular centre."
He added: "In this large part of London, many minorities have difficult lives through settling in a society they struggle to understand. If you don't have the service here, they won't get treated. If you decide to send them off [to central London] they will disappear and they'll end up dying, in the worst case scenario, or losing their limbs."
Traditionally vascular surgery is "open" - a person is cut open and operated on. Intervenitional radiology involves making a puncture in the patient's groin and inserting a stent, like a metal cage, fed down an artery to the clot.
It is very rare that the two disciplines work side by side and rivalries are common.
Prof Malina said: "The way to overcome this dysfunctional conflict is to bring these groups together. They need to work together in one department led by one leader who respects them both and appreciates them both."
Henrik Sillesen, president of the European Vascular Society, whose hospital in Denmark has a similar unit, added: "Eventually we will train a new breed of doctors who won't be surgeons or radiologists but they will be this modern breed who will have both set of skills so they can decide what is truly best for the patients."
One of these is Lorenzo Patrone, a vascular and interventional radiologist.
One his patients was Gordon Sheridan, a keen equestrian who could not ride his beloved horse for years due to crippling leg pains.
The 67-year-old benefited from a minimally invasive procedure that involved inserting a wire into his groin, which delivered two small stents into the artery at the top of each leg.
He said walking out of the hospital, the same day, with no pain was "extraordinary."
Dr Patrone said: "Arteries tend to clog up as we get older which means blood struggles to get into affected limbs. The operation wasn't without its risks and could have ended in both legs being amputated but we took the risk. Gordon and his partner insisted on going ahead and I felt I needed to reward their faith in me."
Cllr Ketan Sheth, chair of Brent Council's community and wellbeing scrutiny committee, said: "I'm pleased that the new centre will provide patients with seamless care for a range of complex vascular conditions closer to home."