Cardiac nurses have raised concerns that a new plan to treat more myocardial infarction patients with primary angioplasty rather than thrombolysis could increase on-call workloads unless more specialist nurses are recruited.
Treating 97% of myocardial infarction cases with primary angioplasty would save an additional 240 lives each year and prevent 260 strokes, according to final guidance from the Department of Health’s National Infarct Angioplasty Project.
However, meeting this target would require 24/7 cover in cardiac catheter laboratories, as primary angioplasty must be delivered within two hours.
Since 2004 the recommended minimum time between emergency call and primary angioplasty has been reduced from three to two hours, making time pressures more of an issue.
Currently just 25% of all myocardial infarction cases are treated with primary angioplasty.
A 24/7 primary angioplasty service was introduced seven weeks ago at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.
Since then more than 40 extra patients have undergone the procedure.
While welcoming the new service and its benefits for patients, Caroline Hughes, a cardiac services matron at the trust, said:
‘Our existing on-call staff are doing more call-outs at the moment than they would have been. Now it’s a rarity not being called in.’
She added that her trust plans to recruit new staff but suggested that this may not be the case in other trusts.
‘We were fortunate enough to get those extra staff but as this expands across the country those extra nurses are not always going to be out there,’ she said.
Treatment of heart attack national guidance: final report of the National Infarct Angioplasty Project can be downloaded here dh.gov.uk