DOCTORS are spearheading a new appeal to create a cash pot to give crucial help and support to heart patients when they are discharged from hospital.

The Essex Heart Fund has been set up by consultant cardiologists Dr Gerald Clesham and Dr Thomas Keeble, to bring major improvements to the lives of Essex heart patients and their families.

The fund will help heart patients after they have left hospital, including follow-up calls from medical staff in their first few weeks after discharge, peer support groups and activities like fitness classes to help them regain their confidence.

If funds allow, money will be spent on equipment used in heart research.

Dr Clesham, who works at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre in Basildon and Broomfield Hospital, said: “We know that the people of Essex are already very generous in donating to heart charities. However, only a tiny fraction of the money donated to national heart charities finds its way back to Essex.

“Heart conditions are still the commonest causes of premature death and are a major cause of disability. Cardiac services in Essex serve a population of about 1.8 million people and we are confident that channelling more money into local services will result in an improved outcome for heart patients.”

The fund will be managed by the Essex Community Foundation. Money donated to the Essex Heart Fund will only be spent in Essex.The fund will also enable new clinical services to be launched in Essex hospitals and the aim is for the NHS to commission the services when they have proved to be a success.

Dr Clesham, who has been a consultant in Essex for 20 years, is president of the Chelmsford and District Cardiac Support Group and sees first-hand how patients can often feel unsupported after being discharged from hospital. He said it will also help to recruit and keep hospital staff.

Dr Keeble, who works at Southend Hospital and the Cardiothoracic Centre in Basildon, will be active in the Essex community to promote the fund and provide education about heart health.

He added: “The Essex Heart Fund will have its own identity and we are pleased to be working with Essex Community Foundation as our umbrella organisation.” Visit for information.