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Hospital chamber unveiled

PUBLISHED: 10:52 28 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 July 2010

A new hyperbaric chamber costing about £500,000 - which will serve the whole of the eastern region - was unveiled on Friday at Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital.

A new hyperbaric chamber costing about £500,000 - which will serve the whole of the eastern region - was unveiled on Friday at Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital.

The facility looks much like an aircraft cabin and the first patient to “board” before the official launch by Lowestoft MP Bob Blizzard was Beccles pensioner Tom Clark, a diabetic being treated for poor circulation.

Once seated inside, his treatment involved breathing oxygen in a pressurised environment equivalent to a water depth of 14 metres.

Consultant anaesthetist Dr Bob Mann said such oxygen therapy promoted better circulation and helped the healing process.

In Mr Clark's case it was a real lifeline as he had already had one leg amputated because of his condition - it was hoped the treatment would help save his other limb.

The 70-year-old, who said he had suffered from small-blood-vessel disease as a consequence of being on insulin for 56 years, vouched for the fact that circulation in his foot had improved since treatment began.

Dr Mann said the chamber, which has replaced a much smaller one, would be used to treat dozens of patients with a range of conditions.

As well as diabetics, others to benefit would include divers with decompression illness and patients suffering from carbon-monoxide poisoning, as well as those with certain life-threatening infections.

Some problems after radiation therapy and plastic surgery could also benefit from the oxygen.

Dr Mann said one of the nearest similar facilities in East London had been used to treat the injuries of professional footballers. “West Ham have even attributed it to keeping them in the Premiership as it helped them get Argentinian star Carlos Teves back to fitness quickly at the end of last season,” he said.

Constant medical cover for the hyperbaric service is provided by consultants at the JPH from A&E, the intensive-care unit and anaesthetics.

The chamber, which was craned into place before Christmas, is a public-private initiative with London Hyperbaric and Wound Healing Centres, which has bought the equipment.

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