A fast-track heart clinic launched to get patients immediate appointments has built up a six-week waiting list in just five months and is slowing down an entire cardiac department.

The Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic was set up at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, in January so people suffering chest pains could have immediate specialist tests.

It aimed to ease the strain on the cardiology department at the hospital by letting patients bypass normal outpatient appointments, but has increased the pressure on people working in the service.

The clinic is so short staffed it can only be run once a week and patients are forced to wait six weeks to be seen.

It has also caused delays for other cardiology out-patients at John Radcliffe, who are having to wait longer for their appointments because the department's five consultants have to cover the new clinic.

In a letter to GPs, cardiac directorate manager Belinda Boulton said the number of available weekly appointments was inadequate and added that the clinic was "at present just another additional pressure on an already stretched service".

Ms Boulton said she needs an extra £500,000 to get the clinic running smoothly.

GPs use the clinic for patients who suffer from chest pain during physical activity.

Under supervision from trained technicians, patients are given "treadmill tests" while attached to heart monitors that pinpoint any heart conditions.

Despite £103,000 funding, managers have found it difficult to recruit technicians and cannot run the clinic at the John Radcliffe for the planned three sessions a week, with an extra clinic at The Horton, Banbury.

Ms Boulton said: "There's a shortage of technicians within the clinic.

"We have a nurse and technician at the clinic, but it has to be supervised by cardiologists.

"But if the doctors are working at the clinic, then something else has to go."