Creating a centre of excellence in the Harley Street medical area of London is no easy feat. When Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care, the private wing of the famous heart and lung hospital, became the first NHS specialist trust to open a facility there, huge MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography) scanners had to be lifted by crane over the front wall and lowered into the six-storey building at 77 Wimpole Street.
Together with X-ray and ultrasound machines, the scanners are the heart of a new outpatient and diagnostic facility, located to provide convenient access for patients and clinicians in the capital. The PET-CT imaging service, which caters for cardiac, oncology and neurology patients, is one of only two in the UK that can perform rubidium cardiac imaging, which provides faster and more detailed imaging, and delivers a lower radiation dose to patients than comparable scans.
The trust has more than 30 years’ experience in providing private care and this offering continues to grow. Patient choice is the key driver behind this – being able to see the specialist they choose, when they want, in addition to having all diagnostics at the one site, are important factors for patients.
While the private service caters to the needs of those who have medical insurance or choose to fund their care, it also plays another important role. The revenue stream that private care generates is invested back into the trust’s NHS services, to continue to support the delivery of specialist heart and lung care to all patients.
The trust has two main London sites – Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea and Harefield Hospital near Uxbridge – both of which provide private care from more than 150 consultants across a whole range of cardiothoracic specialties. The trust has a long history of leading medical advances, including pioneering the UK’s first combined heart and lung transplant, and the first implanted coronary stent. It is the country’s largest centre for the treatment of adult congenital heart disease and has pioneered intricate cardiac surgery for new-born infants.
An independent analysis, published earlier this year, showed that researchers at the trust had more highly cited papers about respiratory care than any other trust in the UK and the joint-highest number in the field of cardiovascular medicine.
Experts working at Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals continue to pioneer new treatments for heart and lung disease. This year, for the first time in the UK, a patient with a leaking mitral valve in her heart, had it repaired at Royal Brompton without the need for open heart surgery, through the use of a new technology known as the Harpoon device. The minimally invasive procedure takes half as long to perform as open heart surgery and allows for a quicker recovery.
The Harefield team implant more left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), mechanical pumps to support a failing heart, than any other UK hospital. The trust, meanwhile, has one of the country’s biggest centres for the implantation or renewal of pacemakers and defibrillators, last year implanting or renewing 3,395 of these life-saving devices.
It is this expertise and quality of care that encourages patients to seek treatment with Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care. Now, with the new Wimpole Street facility, the trust has extended its private service to be open six days a week, providing access to more than 50 leading consultants at this location. The aim, says Dudley Pennell, professor of cardiology, is to provide a one-stop diagnostic centre with globally renowned consultants.
A dedicated website – www.rbhh-specialistcare.co.uk – provides more details, and the facility to find a consultant and make an appointment