A NEW centre tackling heart disease in Birkenhead will be hailed today for helping to boost the number of patients receiving fast treatment.
The annual report by Sir Nigel Crisp, the NHS's chief executive, will praise the self-contained centre at St Catherine's Hospital, which opened in September.
Patients registered with GP practices in Birkenhead, where death rates from heart disease are up to twice the national average, can be referred directly to the centre.
Three local GPs with a special interest in coronary heart disease and a hospital cardiology specialist each take one session a week.
Patients with high blood pressure and angina can expect to be seen within two weeks, rather than waiting up to six months to see a consultant.
The centre, which is part of the the Wirral Heart Support Unit, also offers support to change lifestyles, as well as cardiac rehabilitation and exercise.
In his report, Sir Nigel will pick out the Birkenhead initiative as one of the best examples of the way the NHS is changing to offer faster, more convenient treatment.
Instead of waiting for admission to an acute hospital, more and more patients are being treated at outpatient clinics and even GP surgeries.
Across the country, Sir Nigel will announce the number of outpatient procedures leapt by 14.9pc in the six months to September.
But the figures will reveal only a small increase in the number of treat-ments within hospitals, known as finished clinical episodes(FCEs)
That will be leapt on by the Conservatives as evidence the extra billions Labour is pouring into the NHS is failing to improve the standard of care.
Health Secretary John Reid said: "The days when the only way to have an operation was to have a long stay in hospital are over.
"People want their operations done more quickly and they want them over and done with, so they can get on with their lives. For the first time, we have real evidence that this is happening."
Dr Abhi Mantgani, chairman of the Wirral Coronary Heart Disease modernisation team, said: "Coronary heart disease is a problem in this area.
"The opening of these facilities complement and build on the significant progress already made to improve the services offered to our patients."