Patients needing cardiac devices will now be able to be treated in South Tyneside following the appointment of a new specialist consultant.

Dr Jen Peal is the first specialist in the borough to be able to fit complex devices such as biventricular pacemakers and defibrillators.

Prior to the Consultant Cardiologist’s appointment at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, patients requiring these specialist procedures had to travel to Newcastle, Cramlington or Middlesbrough for treatment.

Dr Peal is originally from the South East, but trained in Newcastle where she specialised in heart abnormalities. She will hold clinics at both Sunderland Royal Hospital and South Tyneside District Hospital meaning patients with heart problems can see a specialist much closer to home.

Dr Peal will work with specialist physiologists at the Trust, who investigate the electrical function of the heart, to assist in diagnosing and treating heart disease.

The Trust said the important appointment was key to its plans to provide more specialist services for patients closer to their homes and in turn reduce waiting times and increase choice for people living across South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Dr Peal said: “I’m very much looking forward to working with the team in South Tyneside and Sunderland and bringing a much needed service to local people who, until now, have had to travel for their treatment.

“Complex devices such as pacemakers can be life changing for patients with heart problems and I very much hope that my appointment increases access to patients in our local area who could very much benefit from this kind of treatment. I am passionate about reducing the risk of heart rhythm problems in people and look forward to working with such a forward thinking team.”

A pacemaker is a small electrical device, fitted in the chest or abdomen, and is used to treat some abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that can cause the heart to either beat too slowly or miss beats.  An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or automated implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) is a device implanted inside the body, which is able to correct most life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.

Dr Mickey Jachuck, Clinical Director for Cardiothoracic Medicine at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am delighted to welcome Jen to the team, she brings with her a wealth of experience in the field of specialist cardiology and is a real boost to our department.

“Her appointment is part of our plans to develop a complex/high voltage device services and will ensure that our populations have access to life-saving procedures at their local hospital. Jen will also be working with undergraduate and postgraduate teams at the University of Sunderland passing her expertise onto the future workforce.”