The cardiothoracic unit at The James Cook University Hospital is a specialised regional service serving a population of 1.5 million stretching from Whitehaven in Cumbria to North Yorkshire, Teesside and Durham.
We have a team of seven consultant cardiothoracic surgeons, supported by nine consultant anaesthetists, and offer a full programme of surgical care to adults who have heart disease or abnormalities, such as angina or heart valve disease.
Currently we have three dedicated operating theatres, an 8-bedded intensive care unit, 10-bedded high dependency unit and 43 cardiothoracic surgery beds. Our cardiac services are supported by the North of England Cardiovascular network, which is a forum that represents us, our partners in primary care, our colleagues in referring hospitals and the local strategic health authorities.
We are a cancer centre for lung cancer and the focus of the Cancer Care Alliance of Teesside, South Durham and Yorkshire. We hold a weekly specialist lung cancer multidisciplinary team meeting, which is attended by respiratory physicians, cardiothoracic surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and lung cancer nurses. Extended members of the team include social workers and occupational therapists. This aims to provide expert management for this patient group.
A full range of cardiac surgical interventions, including coronary bypass, arrhythmia and valve operations are offered, with the current exception of heart transplantation. Surgical intervention is also provided as emergency care to patients who suffer traumatic chest injuries. Patients who are referred for surgery will meet members of the team before their operation and receive plenty of information and advice. Pre-admission clinics are regularly held for surgical patients, at which relatives are also welcome.
All patients will be given advice and support prior to discharge. The cardiothoracic unit has been involved for many years with the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland in monitoring clinical outcomes.
The service regularly and routinely assesses outcomes internally to ensure performance is consistently good. We have seen a rapid growth in minimal access/minimally invasive cardiac surgery (for valve disease, coronary artery disease and cardiac arrhythmias). We have also developed a very successful TAVI (transcatheter aortic-valve implantation) programme, jointly with the cardiologists, to fix aortic valves in elderly patients – who would otherwise be denied surgery.
We also fix diseases of the thoracic aorta – either with open surgery or through endovascular stenting (in conjunction with the radiologists).
Cardiac intensive care
We have a dedicated 12-bedded cardiac intensive care unit working alongside the cardiothoracic surgery team.