Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC)

CTC services and support

The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre offers a range of services for people who need specialist treatment for heart and lung conditions.

For the full list of services and support available at the centre, please visit the CTE page.

CTC patients and visitors

Patients and visitors section

Whether you are coming to The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) as a patient, or if you are visiting a relative or friend, you will find the facilities are among the best of any NHS hospital.

The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, Basildon University Hospital, Nethermayne, Basildon, Essex, SS16 5NL

Telephone: 01268 524900

Whether you are coming to The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) as a patient, or if you are visiting a relative or friend, you will find the facilities are among the best of any NHS hospital.


Operating theatres
Cardiac catheter laboratories
A critical care ward, surgical ward, cardiology ward
Echocardiograhy department
Cardiac rehabilitation gym
CT and MRI facilities

Access for people with a disability

The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) is fully accessible for disabled patients and visitors. The CTC has full wheelchair access with large lifts and designated toilets for disabled visitors on each level, and is compliant with building design guidelines for people with sight difficulties. A loop system is available in reception areas for people with hearing difficulties.

Designated parking spaces are available for blue badge holders.

Infection Control

We take infection control very seriously and constantly work to control the risk of infection to patients, visitors and staff.

Hand hygiene is an important way of reducing the risk of infection. There are sinks and alcohol hand gel close to the end of every patient bed to encourage good hand hygiene. We advise that visitors to wash their hands or use the gel when they enter and leave a bedside.

We also ask that visitors do not sit on beds.

Mobile telephones

Mobile telephones may only be used in public areas, such as the main reception and café. They must not be used in the clinical areas, including the wards, as they can interfere with sensitive medical equipment. Please turn off your mobile phone before entering any clinical area.

The use of mobile phones to take photographs or record images is not allowed to ensure patient confidentiality. 


Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a smokefree Trust. Smoking is not allowed in any of our hospital buildings or grounds. This includes The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre and Basildon University Hospital, and the car parks.

About The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC)

The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) provides specialist treatment and care for people with heart or lung problems.

The centre boasts some of the most modern cardiothoracic (heart and lung) treatment facilities in the country. It was purpose-built to accommodate the highly equipped operating theatres and cardiology treatment rooms needed to provide world-class treatment and care.

The CTC is located on the Basildon University Hospital site, and is able to treat a greater range of patients by having direct access to the renal support therapy, vascular surgery and surgical trauma teams in the general hospital.

The CTC has:

Four state of the art operating theatres, including a hybrid theatre for patients who require a procedure involving both cardiology and surgical input.

Three cardiac catheter laboratories.

A critical care ward with 22 beds, for people who need extra support immediately following their operation, Colne Ward

A surgical ward, with 32 beds, Chelmer Ward

A cardiology ward, with 28 beds, Roding Ward

Many patients needing less intensive nursing care will have their own individual bedroom with ensuite facilities.

A day ward for people who do not need to stay in hospital overnight following their procedure, Thames Ward

Cardiac rehabilitation gym

A day in The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre - Find out more about the work that takes place in different areas of The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre.

CTC outpatient department

Level A, The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre,
Basildon University Hospital site, Nethermayne, Basildon, Essex, SS16 5NL


Service manager: Karen Stephenson
Telephone number: 01268 394046 (for Basildon Hospital outpatient department please call: 01268 524900)

Patients will visit the outpatient department for appointments before and after their operation or procedure. Outpatient services in the CTC include:

  • General and specialist cardiology clinics, including nurse led pre-assessment clinics
  • One-stop clinics for cardiac and thoracic surgery
  • Anaesthetic pre-op assessment clinics
  • Post-op follow-up clinics
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) clinics

CTC - preparing for your visit

Items to bring with you

If you are coming to stay as an inpatient please bring with you:


Light day clothes 
Night wear
Dressing gown


Hairbrush / comb
Toothbrush and toothpaste, or dentures, denture cleaner and denture holder
Towels (hand and bath)
Shaving equipment

Other items   

Walking aid
Glasses and glasses case
Hearing aid and batteries
Hand held record book
Medication details (including anti-coagulant book)
Supply of your usual medicine

Please do not bring large sums of money or valuables into the hospital with you. You will only need a small amount of change for newspapers etc.

Please bring only essential electrical items with you during your stay. No item of electrical equipment can be used in the hospital without first being tested by qualified electrical contractors. A member of staff will arrange to have your electrical items tested.

What will happen when you arrive at The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre

Please go to the main reception desk on the ground floor. You will then be directed to your ward. During admission please tell the staff if you:

  • Are taking any medicines, including any herbal medication or supplements
  • Need somebody to deal with your pensions or benefits
  • Need a medical certificate
  • Have any special dietary requirements or food allergies
  • Have any special communication requirements (e.g. difficulty hearing, or needing an interpreter)

This is also a good opportunity to tell the nurse about any worries or concerns you may have about your stay or treatment.


Please bring any medication (including anti-coagulant) with you to hospital.

Medicines you may be given during your stay include:

Pain relief

Pain relief is used to help patients feel more comfortable. Pain relief is given into veins in measured doses by pumps. These are often used with sedatives.


Sedatives are used to keep a patient in a deep sleep or, in smaller doses, to keep a conscious patient calm. This can help patients cope with the tubes and equipment attached to them. These are also given through pumps.

Inotropes - drugs to help the heart work more effectively

To deal with the effects of the heart not functioning properly, we use a group of drugs called inotropes to help the heart work more effectively.

Infection Control

We take infection control very seriously and constantly work to control the risk of infection to patients, visitors and staff. The CTC has been designed with this in mind, cleaning standards are closely monitored and all of our staff are specially trained.

Hand hygiene is an important way of reducing the risk of infection. There are sinks and alcohol hand gel close to the end of every patient bed to encourage good hand hygiene. All patients will be screened for MRSA at their pre-admission assessment.

How long will I need to stay?

This will depend on the operation/procedure or treatment that you are having. It will also depend on your general health. Your consultant will be able to give you a clearer idea.

CTC - information for relatives

Family and friends are very welcome and are encouraged, where possible, to take an active part in routine care.

Only two visitors at one time please.

On arriving at a ward we ask everyone to ring the doorbell and wait for permission to enter before coming in. There are several reasons for this:

your relative may be undergoing a procedure or nursing care and want privacy
we may be in a ward round discussing confidential information
there may be a patient in the next bed who needs privacy
We recognise that this can be frustrating for relatives, but our priority is to see to the patient's medical condition. The team will try to give relatives as much information as they can, and allow visitors as soon as possible.

Please be aware that patients may feel very tired following their operation/procedure or treatment and may not feel up to many visitors.

Infection control

We ask people with a cold, cough, stomach upset or other infection not to visit until they are better, as patients are vulnerable to infection.

Contacting Us

We ask that relatives do not ring between 8am and 9am. This allows the nurses to thoroughly assess and care for the patients at this busy time.

We also ask families to nominate one member to be responsible for calling us on a daily basis for updated information about their relative. This person can then pass on details to other family members. This helps the team look after the patient by preventing too many phone calls which take the nurse away from the bedside.

We try to answer calls as promptly as possible, but we ask you to understand that there may be a delay if we are busy.


We ask that visitors do not bring in flowers, as water can be hazardous around electrical medical equipment. Flowers can also be a source of infection and some patients may be allergic to their pollen.

CTC - equipment you might see

There is a range of medical equipment you might see during your stay at The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre. 


A ventilator is a machine that helps a patient to breathe. Doctors will insert a tube which leads to the lungs, through either the patient's mouth or into the windpipe (tracheostomy). The tube is connected to a machine which blows air in and out of the lungs. The machine can 'breathe' completely for a patient or it can be programmed to support the patient's own breathing.

Ventilator display monitor

The numbers on the front of the ventilator constantly change, which is normal. These tell staff about the size of breaths that the ventilator delivers each time it works.

If the ventilator is breathing completely for a patient, the patient is often sedated. This means that they are given medicines to bring on a deep sleep, which they wake up from when the drugs are withdrawn. This deep sleep makes it easier for the ventilator to work, and makes the patient more comfortable.

A patient can be gradually taken off the ventilator when their condition improves. This is called 'weaning'.

Tracheostomy: If a patient is likely to remain on a ventilator for more than a few days, they can sometimes be given a tracheostomy. In this case, the patient will receive a minor operation to have a breathing tube inserted into a hole made in the throat. Although this can look rather strange, it is comfortable for the patient. 

Cardiac output monitor

The cardiac monitor looks like a television set attached to the wall above the patient's bed. It measures things such as heart rate and blood pressure. The machine picks up electrical impulses from the heart and can detect abnormalities.

The machine also monitors a number of other important body functions such as:

  • Central venous pressure: A measure of heart function
  • Respiratory rate and oxygen saturation: A measure of the amount of oxygen in the blood stream

It is normal for the numbers on the display to change regularly and occasionally flash or sound an alarm. This can cause concern to visitors but it does not mean that an emergency is happening. It simply tells staff that their attention is required. 

Infusion pump (drip)

When patients need some form of extra fluid this is usually given to them through a drip. These allow sterile (pure and clean) fluids to be given directly into the patient's veins, either in the hands, feet, or the side of the neck.

There are different types of fluids given through drips, including:

Blood: A patient may need this if their blood levels are below normal
Medicines: These are often given to patients in critical care
Re-hydration fluids: These help to get the right balance of water in a patient's body and can help maintain blood pressure. 

Blood gas analysis machine

Blood gas analysis tells staff how well the lungs and heart are working. This is especially important if the patient is receiving extra oxygen, is on a ventilator or has problems with their heart function or breathing.

This simple procedure involves taking a small amount of blood (less than half a teaspoon) from the patient.

Cardiac output monitor

These monitors tell staff how well a patient's heart is working, and whether the heart is having difficulty pumping blood around the body. There are several types of monitors and staff can explain the differences and why a particular type is being used. 

kidney support machine

Some patients' kidneys do not work properly while in hospital, and require machines to take over.

The kidney removes waste products from the blood stream. They make sure that the balance between the water that we drink and water that we pass out is maintained. When the kidney does not function properly this delicate balance is lost and has to be performed by a special machine called the filter.

The filter removes blood from a vein through a tube (catheter), pumps it through a filter, to remove waste products and excess water, and then returns the 'cleaned' blood back to the patient. This can work continuously twenty four hours a day, if necessary.

CTC - Medicines

Pain relief

Pain relief is used to help patients feel more comfortable. Pain relief is given into veins in measured doses by pumps. These are often used with sedatives.


Sedatives are used to keep a patient in a deep sleep or, in smaller doses, to keep a conscious patient calm. This can help patients cope with the tubes and equipment attached to them. These are also given through pumps.

Inotropes - drugs to help the heart work more effectively

To deal with the effects of the heart not functioning properly, we use a group of drugs called inotropes to help the heart work more effectively.

Pacemaker and ICD Patient FAQs

Frequently asked questions

Below are some of the questions that patients with implantable cardiac devices often have.

Please look through these to find the answer to your question.

If you can't find the information you need here, there are contact details at the bottom of the list.

Home monitors

How to use - We currently use 4 different manufacturers for home monitoring. Please see your manufacturer’s specific information sheet for guidance.

Power cuts - Don’t worry. Just check that once the power comes back on, it powers back up

Holidays and moving - Call to let us know if you’re going away for more than 2 weeks so we can make a note and keep it plugged in

Flashing, beeping, not working- Firstly switch off and on. If problem still persists contact customer care helpline relevant to your device

Is my home monitor working? If the home monitor has not been in communication with your device for a few weeks it will notify us. We will then contact you to check the connections and that it is still switched on. If these seem OK we will ask you to contact the manufacturer who will be able to investigate.

I’m having problems setting my monitor up

Don’t panic or worry; your device will still work. Please call your manufacturer who will help guide you through the setup

Manufacturer contact numbers

Medtronic Directo 0330 1232112
Boston Scientific Latitude 0800 6781644
Abbott Medical Merlin 0800 3892714
Sorin Microport 0151 6032810

My device fired

If your ICD fires once and you feel ok, and haven’t collapsed and do not continue to experience symptoms such as palpitations, Shortness of breath and light-headedness contact us to notify what has happened. If you have home monitoring we may ask for a download from your device or ask you to attend clinic to check your device.
You should call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance

If however, you

have more than one shock in one day,
collapse or
continue to experience symptoms such as palpitations, Shortness of breath and light-headedness.

Then: the paramedics should assess you, carry out vital checks and if necessary take you to your local hospital. Your local hospital should decide whether you require any treatment there and in some cases will ask you to come to the Essex CTC for further treatment. In our experience in this situation, most patients are treated locally and do not require transfer to us.


The DVLA have strict and complex guidelines on driving once you have an implanted cardiac device and can vary from patient to patient, details can be found at

They also state that it is the driver’s responsibility to be aware if they are eligible to drive or not. They can be contacted for further information as below
Drivers Medical Enquiries
SA99 1TU Telephone: 0300 790 6806

I’ve been feeling unwell with the flu

If you’re experiencing colds, flu, chest infections, and shortness of breath for example it is unlikely to be the fault of your device. We therefore advise that in these circumstances you see consult your GP first who should assess your condition.

I have a pacemaker and my heart is racing, is my device OK?

Pacemakers only stop your heart rate going too slow so this should not be causing your heart to race.

If you feel unwell you should seek emergency medical help by calling 111 or 999. If you feel ok, you should contact your GP.

I have been advised to contact my heart failure team but I don’t have their details.

Basildon: 0300 300 1582
Chelmsford: 0300 131 0111
Colchester: 01206 588016
Southend: 01702 482841
Epping locality: 01992 561666 ext 5554,
Harlow & South Uttlesford: 01279 621925,
Harlow & North Uttlesford: 01279 621925

I’m not sure if my device is infected and it looks funny

The area around the device site should look like this (above) and have the same appearance as the area around the other side of your chest

Sometimes, devices can become infected.

If your device shows any signs of infection such as redness, new bruising, becomes swollen, hot to touch or inflamed it is very important that you contact
the arrhythmia nurses on 01268 394 021 so that we can look at the device and assess it.

My device has been beeping at me

As you may already be aware your device is very clever. As a result if your device wants to let us know any important information such as the battery is starting to deplete, it may ‘beep’ or ‘vibrate’. If this happens, please contact us straight away and we may arrange for a download of your device via your home monitor or may ask you to attend clinic.

Is it normal for my stomach to be twitching?

Sometime some patients feel a ‘twitching’ sensation in their stomach. This will not cause you any harm, and is probably due to the pacemaker aggravating the nerve called the phrenic nerve that is located along the front of the chest, close to where the pacemaker stimulates your heart. If you experience this for a short time and are not uncomfortable let us know at your next routine FU. If however it is uncomfortable, stops you sleeping or continues for a long period of time, please contact us and we will arrange for you to attend the clinic where we can adjust your device to stop this from happening.

Changing appointments

If for any reason you cannot make your appointment to have your device checked it is important that you contact us and give us as much time as possible to reschedule. As a busy service we have limited spaces and can always fill empty spaces at short notice. If you are eligible and require transport please contact our booking team who can arrange this for you on 01268 624900 extension 4516

Can I have my device checked at my local hospital?

If you have a pacemaker implanted, most local hospital can follow up pacemakers. Please let us know that you would like this to occur and we will contact them and arrange to transfer the care of your pacemaker to them. If however, you have an ICD or CRT pacemaker it may not be possible as some local hospitals do not have the facilities to carry this out. Please ask and we can let you know.

Can I walk through the Security alarms in shops and airports?

Security alarms in the shops are fine. Just walk normally through them, and avoid standing in between for prolonged periods of time.

At the airport, show the security your ID card. They should carry out a hand search. Advise them to avoid the use of the wand and the walkthrough scanners which, in rare cases can interact with your device. Airports have thousands of pacemaker and ICD patients pass through them every year and the security staff are trained and familiar with what precautions if any are required of the particular equipment they use.

Can I use my electric blanket?

There are some case reports of electric blankets interacting with cardiac implantable devices. We advise that if you wish to use one that you use it before you got to bed to warm the bed and turn it off prior to getting into bed.

Can I use my voice activated assistant?

Yes, this will not affect your device

I’d like to wear my Smart Watch (Fitbit/ Apple watch etc) or a magnetic bracelet?

Your watch or bracelet will not interact with your device. The heart rates these devices show can be erroneous so try not ot get fixated on the number they show it is often inaccurate.

Can I go on a rollercoaster?

Some rollercoasters may interact with your device, please follow the rides precautions

Loop recorders

If you have a Medtronic Reveal ™Loop recorder, you will have been given the activator to use when you have symptoms. If you use this more than once or have symptoms such as passing out of nearly passing out please contact us and we will arrange for you to come in and have your device checked. If you activator runs out of batteries you can replace them with Duracell N 1.5V batteries.

If you have an Abbott Confirm RX™ that uses the App to log symptoms please use this to record them. If there any significant episodes we will contact you. If you are having problems with the app, please contact Abbott Medical Merlin 0800 3892714

My doctor would like me to have an MRI scan, is this OK?

Most of our newer devices may be MRI compatible under specific conditions. Please ask your doctor to contact us and we can advise them appropriately. Your Device I.D card will have the details of your device the which the MRI Department may ask you for these details.

What happens if I need an operation?

Your device is designed and manufactured to protect itself from lots of different operations. Please take your I.D card along with you if you attend pre assessment. In some cases we will need to speak with the team performing your operation and may need to check and alter your device settings for the duration of the procedure and put them back post operation.

Can I have an X-Ray?

Yes, there is no reason you may now have an X-Ray, if clinically indicated.

Can I have a mammogram?

Yes, in most cases this will be fine. Inform the radiographer that you have a device in situ.


Most dental equipment is fine to use on patients with devices. patients. However there are some pieces of their equipment that may interact with your devices. In any case, your dentist will know the equipment they have that it safe and can be used. As we will be unfamiliar with the equipment that your dentist will be using we are unable to provide written confirmation, a list of commonly used equipment can be found on this website

Can I use an induction cooker hob?

These pose a potential risk of interaction with your device and use should be avoided if possible, or used with caution keeping a distance of two feet between the cooking surface and your device.

Stop using the induction hob is you feel at all unwell.

End of life Care. What happens to my device when I die?

If you have a pacemaker we won’t have to do anything as we can’t turn a pacemaker off.
If you have an ICD, we may have to turn it off, especially if you are being cremated.
In most cases it is best practice when reaching end of life to deactivate your ICD in advance. This will not affect the pacemaker function of your ICD and is carried out in the clinic.

I’m travelling abroad; will I be able to have my device checked?

As within the UK, centre hospitals will only be able to check your device. Always take a copy of your ID card with you and refer to your specific manufactures website for more information if required

I’ve lost my ID card, where can I get a new one from?

Please email with your details and we will send a new one in the post

Contacting us

If you can’t find the answer to your query in the frequently asked questions,
you can contact us by email
or telephone 01268 524900 extension 4064 .

Please be advised that we are extremely busy and you will usually get an answer phone.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

We will prioritise our responses by clinical need, so some messages may take a few days to get a response.

This contact method should not be used in a medical emergency.

CTC research

The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre is a driver of cardiovascular and thoracic research across the region, and is developing as an internationally recognised research unit.

The CTC is committed to delivering scientifically important, translational research that benefits patients. Built on a foundation to provide world class patient care, the CTC includes many research-active clinicians in research programmes across:

  • Interventional cardiology
  • Cardiac electrophysiology
  • Cardiovascular and thoracic surgery
  • Perfusion
  • Anaesthetics

As an active partner in the North Thames Local Research Network (CTC third highest recruiter) and our local Health Innovation & Education Cluster (HIEC) supports a number of research projects under the umbrella of the Cardiology Research Unit.  The Unit is a joint venture with the Post Graduate Medical Institute at Anglia Ruskin University and includes the support of an MD and PhD fellow.

There are currently 15 studies recruiting patients and a further four studies where patients continuing to be being followed up have participated.  If you would like more information on any of the studies, please speak to your consultant or contact the research department at Basildon Hospital on 01268 524900 ext 8902.

The Brook Suite, Nash Basildon

Welcome to Nash Basildon, our Private Patient Suite

Our Brook Suite offers private patients access to the full range of heart, lung and respiratory treatments.

Call 01268 394217 for more details.

Comfort and privacy of your own ensuite facilities

All the income we generate is invested back into the NHS

Treatments and services

The Brook Suite, Nash Basildon specialises in a full range of diagnostic tests, treatments and operations for heart, lung and respiratory problems. All procedures are carried out by some of the UK's most experience consultants and surgeons who are expert in their field. They are supported by dedicated nursing teams, who specialise in the care of cardiothoracic patients.

Situated within The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (Essex CTC), patients are able to enjoy the ‘best of both worlds.’ This combines the relaxed, comfortable surroundings of an en-suite single room in a private ward, with the peace of mind of 24/7 access to all the facilities of an NHS centre of excellence, including a full critical care unit and specialist operating theatres.

Contact us on 01268 394217 or email

Clinical sevices:

  • Cardiovascular services
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Interventional cardiology
  • Cardiac electrophysiology

Clinical support services:

  • Specialised cardiac imaging
  • Clinical perfusion
  • Cardiac rehabilitation


Book an appointment for private healthcare

Private healthcare at the Brook Suite, Basildon Hospital

Our friendly bookings team will be happy to make any private healthcare appointments for you or give you any advice you need

You can reach the private healthcare bookings team on 01268 394217.


Refer a patient

Simply send a referral letter via our dedicated email, fax or post.

In the meantime your patient can contact the Brook Suite directly to arrange a convenient appointment on 01268 394217.

If the patient does not contact us we will contact them to arrange an appointment according to the details provided on the referral.

Consultations and diagnostic tests are usually available within 72 hours for private patients, or sooner for urgent cardiac referrals. However patients may choose to wait for referral to a specific named consultant.


Tel. 01268 394217

Fax. 01268 394570