Final push needed for new N&N heart surgery suite

MARK NICHOLLS Campaigners are calling on the business community across Norfolk to drive the final push to hit a £1m target to expand heart surgery facilities at the county's main hospital.

MARK NICHOLLS

Campaigners are calling on the business community across Norfolk to drive the final push to hit a £1m target to expand heart surgery facilities at the county's main hospital.

The balloons4hearts appeal has now topped £800,000 but is seeking to secure the final £200,000 by Christmas to enable a new angioplasty suite at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to become fully operational early next year.

Fundraiser Madeleine Skipper said: "We have had two major bequests and lots of smaller donations from the public and grateful patients but we are looking for the business community to become much more involved."

The appeal aims to raise £1m to fund the expansion of heart surgery facilities at the N&N. Cash raised will mean that more angioplasty procedures to unblock clogged arteries in patients' hearts can be performed in Norfolk and avoid people having to travel to Papworth Hospital near Cambridge for the treatment.

The money will fund a second catheter laboratory at the N&N, enabling more diagnostic angiograms and the angioplasty treatments to be carried out.

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A detailed analysis of the donations has show that 37.5pc came from two major donations and 12.5pc from other trusts and charities. A phenomenal 40.6pc has been in donations under £500 from about 3,000 separate donations. However the business sector has contributed only £25,000, a mere 3.1pc.

Barry Ross from the Norfolk Heart Trust, which is behind balloons4hearts, said: "Companies should see this as an investment in people. If their staff get angioplasty at the right time it could make the difference between being back at work in two weeks rather than six months."

Norwich South MP Charles Clarke is supporting the campaign and is urging businesses to get behind the appeal to help it raise the final £200,000. He said: "Balloons4hearts is a fantastic initiative which has already been very successful in raising funding for what will be an enormous addition to the health capacity of Norfolk."

One catheter laboratory at the N&N is already operational and a second has been prepared though will not be operational until the vital equipment can be purchased and that will not happen until the final £200,000 of the appeal is raised.

Once the two cath labs are operational, more than 750 patients from Norfolk will be able to receive life-saving treatment closer to home.

The appeal has received high profile backing as Lord Mayor Roy Blower's charity and as the Chief Constable of Norfolk's charity.

N&N cardiologist Dr Liam Hughes has also raised more than £100,000 - and the profile of the appeal - from a ball and by a two-day row across the North Sea as part of a crew of five.

The N&N has pledged £1.7m to the £2.7m costs with the rest to be raised by public subscription.

Visit www.balloons4hearts.co.uk or send donations with cheques payable to Norfolk Heart Trust at 215 Unthank Road, Norwich, NR2 2PH.

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