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“This represents the best of the NHS”: Record number of heart patients receive potentially life-saving procedure at UHNM

A revolutionary procedure is throwing a lifeline to hundreds of patients each year at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) who are unable to have open-heart surgery.  

450 patients received a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) during 2023 at UHNM’s Cardiology Department, the most ever in a single year.     

TAVI, a treatment for aortic stenosis (AS), involves implanting a new aortic valve into older and high-risk patients who aren’t well enough to have open-heart surgery.

Only 35 heart centres in the UK offer this specialist intervention, with last year’s figures ranking UHNM in the top three performing centres.

Dr Mark Gunning, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at UHNM said: “The success of the TAVI team over the past 12 months, and indeed over the past 14 years, is a testament to teamwork which is beyond parallel.

“Whereas we embarked on the programme in 2009 completing just 30 cases per year, we managed to treat 450 patients in 2023 which is quite a remarkable achievement. Numerically that places us in the top three centres in the UK.

“Moreover the quality of care delivered has in no way been compromised by volume. This impressive throughput it has been delivered by few operators, with fairly limited resources, especially when compared to other UK hospitals.

“My thanks go to our ward nurses, catheter lab team, radiologists, anaesthetists, theatre staff, CT department, cardiac and vascular surgeons, and of course the TAVI clinical team. I would also like to thank our Cardiology management team whom I have harangued and harassed over the years, but without whose help we could not have reached this milestone."

The procedure takes around 45 minutes and is carried out under local anaesthetic.

One patient to benefit from the procedure at UHNM was Michael Sanders, 87, who was diagnosed with aortic stenosis in 2020.

Michael, who's from Northwich, said: “Whilst out walking with my wife I experienced a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), or ‘mini stroke’. During hospital investigations it was found out that I had aortic stenosis. As a keen walker I subsequently noticed an increased shortness of breath and chest tightness, and the following year these symptoms had got much worse and I could no longer walk any distance or get up hills without stopping numerous times. After attending Dr Gunning’s clinic we agreed to a TAVI procedure.

“The operation itself was amazing. There was absolutely no pain, only some sensations and somebody leaning on me. After two days being tended to by friendly and caring staff I was discharged. The improvement to my health was instant, and I wanted to get up and walk immediately as I felt so good. The effect on me was miraculous and I knew that I had truly got my life back.

“The skill and care of the whole TAVI team throughout was second-to-none, and represents the very best of the NHS. They have truly contributed to my new lease of life.”     

Rachel Stuttard, Aortic Valve Clinical Nurse Specialist at UHNM added: “Achieving 450 TAVI patients in a calendar year is a massive group effort that could not be achieved without the hard work and dedication of all those involved. We cover a huge geographical area from Telford, Shrewsbury and the Welsh borders to Macclesfield and even Wigan, I feel immensely privileged to be part of a team that makes such a difference to the lives of so many patients.”