By Steve Hayes 09/03 Updated: 09/03 10:51
GRAVE concerns about the lack of aftercare for heart disease patients on the NHS have inspired a consultant at Warwick Hospital to take matters into her own hands and launch a charity to fund it herself.
Dr Najmi Qureshi and her colleagues launched S-W Heart (South Warwickshire Heart Failure Education and Rehabilitation Trust) this week in a bid to raise £200,000 a year to pay for four specialist nurses and support staff to look after patients who have suffered heart attacks or undergone surgery.
At present cardiac rehabilitation is available to less than half of patients on the NHS - those who have had major surgery or have suffered a major heart attack.
In the last year 350 people locally were seen by doctors but only 194 were offered rehabilitation.
Dr Qureshi, a consultant cardiologist at the Lakin Road hospital, insisted sufferers of angina and those who had suffered smaller heart attacks should also have the chance of rehabilitation.
She said: "We have been making business cases to the NHS every year for 12 years to increase the service and although it is agreed this is a good idea, there is never any money and in these straitened times, that’s even more the case.
"My colleagues and I decided it was time for us to act. We have two specialist nurses working with us at the moment and they are struggling to cope with the workload.
"Ideally we should offer cardiac rehabilitation to every patient with angina and those who have suffered a small heart attack.
Having survived a heart attack, patients can suffer various symptoms, from getting breathless, being unable to walk because their legs have swollen, having to sleep upright because they get fluid in their lungs if they lie down, and muscles can weaken because of lack of activity.
“It’s a miserable way to live and it’s a miserable way to die," added Dr Qureshi.
“We know cardiac rehabilitation works, it does improve quality of life and we are sure local people will get behind us and support our charity.
Dr Qureshi said the charity’s aims also included educating people about heart problems and fund-raising events were planned.
The first is on Saturday evening (March 10) where there will be a champagne reception and art sale auction at Stratford Town Hall.
The team is also asking people taking part in the Two Castles Run on June 10 to raise sponsorship for SW-Heart, and this year’s Warwick Hospital Ball on June 16 will be in aid of the charity.
Visit www.sw-heart.org.uk for more information.
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