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Mobile heart clinic nurses cut waiting times in North Wales

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A pioneering mobile heart scanning clinic staffed by nurses is pushing the boundaries of nursing practice as well as cutting waiting times for patients in rural parts of North Wales.

One of the clinic’s heart failure specialist nurses is currently training in echocardiography, which would create a potentially unique “bridging” role where she can oversee the entire patient journey from initial investigation through to treatment.

“I will be able to start off with the patient and see them from investigation, through diagnosis and then treatment”

Viki Jenkins

The clinic, the first of its kind in the UK, was set up by Dr Graham Thomas, a GP specialising in heart problems.

Run by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, it is staffed by specialist nurses and cardiac physiologists using state of the art portable machinery.

One-stop clinics are set up in community hospitals, GP surgeries and sometimes the homes of housebound patients, meaning people in rural areas are given access to assessment, diagnosis and treatment close to home, rather than having to travel to Bangor.

The initiative in Gwynedd and Anglesey has now been rolled out to other parts of rural North Wales, with a similar model taken up by other health boards.

“We believe will result in Viki being the first nurse in the UK, and possibly worldwide, to develop this scope and role”

Graham Thomas

Heart failure nurse specialist Viki Jenkins, one of the first to have worked on the scheme, said: “We use echo (ultrasound) scanning to diagnose patients for the first time or to carry out regular check ups of those that have suffered with cardiac problems in the past.

“We will interpret them and can give results there and then, as well as initiate the next course of action, where necessary,” she said.

She noted that in some cases they carried out pre-op assessments for patients due to undergo surgery, in order to save them a visit to hospital.

Ms Jenkins added: “I am now undergoing extra training so that I will be able to start off with the patient and see them from investigation, through diagnosis and then treatment.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Mobile clinic’s nurse ‘pushing boundaries of practice’

The mobile heart scanner in action

“I am the only nurse to be doing this in the UK, and possibly even internationally, and being able to offer those extra skills should cut out a number of the current processes,” she said.

“I am currently a heart failure specialist nurse so by qualifying in echocardiography as well I will be crossing the bridge between the two,” she said. “It is pushing the boundaries of nursing practice.”

Dr Thomas, who is a medical advisor to the health board’s heart failure nurses, said: “This mobile facility is an exciting and innovative development, which we believe will result in Viki being the first nurse in the UK, and possibly worldwide, to develop this scope and role.

“She will be a key player, with her physiologist colleagues in enhancing these services,” he said. “It will be of huge benefit to patients.”

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