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Tiny heart monitors bring big benefits for patients

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Mickey Jachuck, holding the old-style implant, and patient Gary Koomson, with the new one which he has had implanted.

Miniaturised cardiac monitors are being implanted in patients at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The monitors, which are about one-third the size of an AAA battery, are nearly 90% smaller than conventional, implantable devices.

They are used for assessing patients with symptoms of dizziness, blackouts or palpitations, which could be signs of disturbances in heart rhythm that may require treatment.

For patients at high risk of having heart problems, the device also has the benefit of offering remote monitoring, allowing for any potential abnormalities to be detected immediately by automatically transmitting information wirelessly to the cardiology team.

Whilst many of the causes for common symptoms are benign, it is important to establish the reason behind them. This is often difficult as the symptoms can occur infrequently and are unpredictable so the ability to monitor the heart continuously, for anything up to two to three years, is extremely helpful in terms of making a diagnosis or reassuring the patient that their heart rhythm is normal.”

– Consultant Cardiologist Dr Mickey Jachuck. South Tyneside Hospital

South Shields father-of-four Gary Koomson was among the first patients to have the new monitor implanted at South Tyneside.

Mr Koomson has a form of the heart muscle disease cardiomyopathy,

I think it’s great: the procedure to implant it was painless and it only took about 10 minutes. It gives me peace of mind because I know that if there any heart irregularities, the doctors will automatically know about it.”

– Gary Koomson

The new Medtronic monitors are implanted in the chest, just under the skin, using local anaesthetic.

The simple procedure takes only a few minutes and the incision measures less than 1cm.

No antibiotics are needed and only a sterile dressing is required to cover the wound.

Previously, implantation of cardiac monitoring devices at South Tyneside District Hospital required a minor surgical procedure, performed in an operating theatre, with antibiotics given intravenously beforehand and the wound, measuring 2cm-3cm, closed with stitches.

GP surgeries in Gateshead rated as inadequate

Rowlands Gill Medical Centre is one of two GP surgeries in Gateshead to be rated as inadequate. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Two GP surgeries in Gateshead have been rated as inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

Dr Syed Masroor Imam and Rowlands Gill Medical Centre have been given the lowest possible rating and could now be placed in special measures.

"If we find a practice to be Inadequate, we will normally put it into special measures, to allow the practice to access support available from NHS England and to ensure there is coordinated response to help the practice improve."

– Care Quality Commission

Under the commissions new programme of inspections all of England's GP practices are being given a rating according to whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led.


Breathalysers to be used in bars in Durham

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Breathalysers will be used in a number of bars and clubs in Durham City this evening, as part of a new river safety pilot project.

Last week a report by the charity ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) made a number of recommendations, including additional lighting along the river bank and improving pathways.

Anyone believed to be intoxicated will be breathalysed, and if they are over the limit they could be refused entry.

Woman with failing sight makes bucket-list

Joanne hearing a human voice and music for the first time

A woman from Gateshead, whose sight is rapidly deteriorating, has made a list of things she wants to see before she goes blind.

Joanne Milne made headlines around the world last year, when she was filmed hearing speech and music for the first time.

Despite the successful ear operation, her eyes have continued to fail.

While she still has her sight Joanne plans to visit Glastonbury, learn to play the piano and raise money to support deaf children.

Joanne Milne

Mountaineer with cystic fibrosis tackles Everest

A climber from County Durham, who has cyctic fibrosis, is hoping to be the first person with the condition to scale Mount Everest.

38-year-old Nick Talbot hopes to £100,000.

Cystic Fibrosis affects the lungs and Nick's biggest challenge will be coping with the reduced oxygen levels at high altitudes.

Nick, who's from Hamsterley Forest, has just passed base camp in a climb that could take up to nine weeks.


UNICEF praise Friarage maternity centre

The midwife-led maternity centre at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton has been praised by UNICEF’s UK baby friendly initiative, for the promotion of breastfeeding.

The centre has achieved Stage 3 accreditation, the same as the maternity unit at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. The staff at both centres were commended for the efforts made in reaching this stage.

Anna Tainsh, from UNICEF’s UK baby friendly initiative said “It was clear to the assessment team that pregnant women and new mothers receive a very high standard of care. Almost all of the mothers interviewed spoke very highly of the care they had received at Friarage maternity centre and this is reflected in the assessment results.

“Excellent progress has been made toward implementing the new maternity standards into care with all of the breastfeeding mothers interviewed understanding how to feed their baby in a responsive way, and many having had a meaningful conversation about relationship building in the antenatal period.”

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