Cardiology CPD students set up rapid access chest clinic

Two Cardiac Physiologists who studied a master’s level module at Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences have been instrumental in setting up a potentially lifesaving clinic that assesses people with chest pains.

Suzanne Churchill and Richard Walters, who studied the Clinical Assessment for Healthcare Scientists continuing professional development module last year, have set up the rapid access chest clinic at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital.

The clinic represents a new way of working.  Traditionally patients would only have been assessed by doctors – either by their GP or in the hospital.  Now they can also be assessed by highly specialised cardiac physiologists like Suzanne and Richard.

The clinic, which expects to see 40 people a month, is held every weekday in the cardiac outpatients department.  The clinic is for people with a history of chest pain over a period of time that may need further assessment to identify the cause.

In the Swansea area, people who go to their doctor with chest pains are referred to the outpatient service or to the emergency cardiology service if they are thought to be unwell enough.

Because heart disease is so common and so serious, there are a lot of referrals, resulting in an ever-growing waiting list – which the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic is helping to bring down.

Suzanne said: “Once we see patients we can decide if they require further investigation and what that should be.

“We should be able to identify whether the cause is likely to be coming from the heart. If we find that is unlikely the patient is discharged back to their GP for other causes to be considered.”

Some patients referred to the clinic are now awaiting heart bypass surgery after they were found to have significant problems. Without the rapid access service they might still be waiting to be seen.

Suzanne and Richard are concentrating on working through the waiting lists for now but the idea in the longer term is that patients will be referred directly to them, as well as to GPs with a specialist interest in cardiology or a cardiologist.

Suzanne said: “The intention is to reduce waiting lists and get patients seen more quickly, which should lead to improved outcomes.”

Emma Rees, Senior Cardiology Lecturer at the College of Human and Health Sciences said: “It is very satisfying to know that Suzanne and Richard have put their new skills to good use and are having such a positive impact on patient care.”