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Cardiac centre 'ready in three years'

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KENT is to get a new £30 million cardiac centre to be the centre of excellence for those suffering heart problems. Health Minister Hazel Blears made the announcement as an immediate result of big spending increases announced in the Budget to fund modernisation of the National Heath Service.

The new Kent Cardiac Centre will be built at the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, and is promised to be opened and ready to serve patients in three years. The modern purpose-built centre will have 66 in-patient and 13 day-patient beds, together with critical care, theatre and cardiac catheterisation facilities.

It will bring huge improvements in access to specialist services for local people with reduced waiting times, improved service quality, and greatly reduce the present reliance on care in distant hospitals in London and elsewhere. It will surpass the required national standards and will support local training, development and research activity.

Director of Kent and Medway Health Authority, Dr Anne Mackle, said: "This is really excellent news. It means that Kent and Medway will have a first-class cardiac network, with 21st century services close to home, by 2005. Heart disease is the second most common cause of death, and also causes high levels of illness and disability. This new centre will play a key role in cutting mortality and illness and making waiting times much shorter."

David Astley, Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals Trust said: "I am delighted that this new facility will be at the William Harvey. The decision to place it here is a tribute to all the Kent cardiologists who co-operated together developing the proposal and who are so committed to improving healthcare across the whole of Kent."

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