Our story begins back in 1970 when cardiologist Douglas Chamberlain arrived in Brighton and started work to open a cardiac department. There were six acute hospitals at the time but none of them had dedicated cardiac facilities. The Royal Sussex County Hospital was in the process of opening an Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) and Douglas (with the help from colleagues) was given a small area for the first four Coronary Care beds. He also started a clinic to give patients advice, conduct tests and provide specialist medical treatment.
In 1979 Douglas was joined by Dr Richard Vincent, the clinic had become a department and was now serving a population of over 3 million people. Many kind patients wanted to pay for the specialist care and services they received and ‘The Cardiac Department Discretionary Fund’ was set up, the fund was used to buy equipment and support the growth of the department even further.
The discretionary fund was also able to support other areas of cardiac care including local research and community resuscitation training programmes, one of these was ‘Heart Guard’ the second of its type in Europe. By 1984 over 20,000 citizens had been trained and as a result, many lives saved; successes that would have been very unlikely without bystander intervention.
In 1987 ‘The Cardiac Department Discretionary Fund’ was incorporated as a charitable company and called the Brighton Heart Support Trust. The charity funded Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on two railway stations, we believe that these were the first two publicly accessible defibrillators in Europe.
The Brighton Heart Support Trust continued to fund innovative equipment, research and training programmes within an ever-increasing radius and as a result started to fund projects outside the immediate vicinity of Brighton. Notable projects include but are not limited to:
In 2006 it was decided that due to our now county-wide area of operation, the charity should change its name once more to better reflect our commitment to improving heart health for the people of Sussex and its associated hospitals. The Brighton Heart Support Trust became The Sussex Heart Charity (SHC) as we are known today, and we continue to work towards our mission to:
IMPROVE the care, treatment, resuscitation and rehabilitation of persons suffering from cardiac conditions with the overall aim to improve heart health for the people of Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and west Sussex.
FINANCE projects, facilities, personnel or research through the cardiac services provided by Sussex hospitals.
SUPPORT community projects for the education, care, treatment, resuscitation and rehabilitation of people living in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex.