OXFORD’S main hospital paid tribute to a woman who transformed services for vascular patients in the region.

The Jackie Walton Vascular Studies Unit at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital was named in memory of the late NHS worker, who died last February, aged 52 after a short illness.

A plaque in the unit was unveiled by Prof Sir Peter Morris, who had appointed Ms Walton as senior, and only, vascular technologist in the JR’s vascular laboratory 23 years ago.

Hundreds of patients have benefited from the services she helped develop as diagnoses prevented sudden death, strokes and amputations.

Much of her work involved using ultrasound equipment to diagnose arterial and venous disease in vascular patients. Sir Peter said: “It was created virtually from nothing. She created one of the major vascular laboratories in the country and the only credit I take is in appointing her in 1987.”

Sir Peter, a former JR Nuffield Professor of Surgery and a past president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “She was a born leader and a brilliant young woman who achieved so much in this hospital.

“The naming of the unit is a small recognition of her contribution to vascular surgery in the Oxford region,”

On coming to Oxford, Ms Walton realised the importance of non-invasive investigations in peripheral vascular disease and persuaded Sir Peter to create a team and expand equipment at the JR.

She was also responsible for training a large number of UK clinical vascular scientists.

A symposium was held on Friday at the JR in honour of the Abingdon resident.

Ashok Handa, consultant vascular surgeon at the JR said: “Jackie Walton was essential in setting up the studies unit which provides state-of-the- art ultrasound tests that help in diagnosis, planning of treatment and prevention of arterial disease, particularly strokes, amputation and sudden death.”

Ms Walton also played a leading role in the creation of the Society for Vascular Technology of Great Britain, going on to become the society’s first president.

She also played an important part in setting up the UK system for accrediting training in vascular technology to raise national standards.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by her husband Reg Little and their three children Robert, 20, Anna, 17 and Mark, 14.

Mr Little said: “Jackie would be immensely proud that the unit, to which she was so committed, now bears her name. It is a wonderful and lasting tribute.

“We are grateful her colleagues at the JR chose to honour Jackie in this way. Her death at such a young age is a terrible loss to the NHS and Oxford patients in particular.”