Innovation helps to cut cardiology waiting times

Niky Bradford and Craig Huckstepp with their awards for passing the training. They are pictured outside by a sign saying heart centre. Craig is on the left in maroon scrubs holding a certificate, Niky on the right in a blue uniform holding
Craig Huckstepp and Niky Bradford with their awards for passing the training

Published on 22 March 2021

Cardiology teams at East Kent Hospitals have slashed waiting times by training staff to perform a vital procedure previously only undertaken by doctors.

Cardiac physiologists and a senior nurse manager are now able to implant a tiny device under local anaesthetic. It measures heart activity and helps identify conditions that need treatment.

The matchstick-sized device, known as an insertable cardiac monitor, was previously put in by doctors in the cardiac catheter lab; a specialised operating theatre.

But thanks to the training, the two-minute procedure can now take place on the day ward with one of the highly-trained staff.

Niky Bradford, manager of the cardiac catheter suite at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, said it was an exciting development for staff and patients.

She said: “It’s fantastic news for our patients, as it really speeds up their diagnosis. The device is monitored remotely, meaning we can rapidly identify the problem and start treatment much faster.

“It also frees up resources, and allows doctors to focus on more complex cases.

“We are looking at expanding the service further by training additional staff, so that more patients can benefit from this new approach.”

Niky, who recently implanted her 100th device, works with cardiac physiologist Craig Huckstepp at the QEQM, while physiologists Iain Thorp and Adam Marzetti perform the procedure at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

She said: “It is exactly the same procedure as the doctors would have done so it is a great service for our patients.

“It means we have been able to get the waiting list down from months to weeks. It’s a really quick procedure to implant the device under the skin but it’s vital in identifying the cause of conditions such as blackouts.”

Lead consultant cardiologist Dr James Rosengarten said it was part of the Trust’s strategy to invest in staff and create roles that harnessed people’s individual talents and strengths.

He said: “It is just one of the ways we are using technology to help our teams innovate and develop extended roles.

“The staff have the skills and the autonomy to carry out this procedure and there are benefits all round.

“It has led to shorter waiting times not only for people waiting to have this device implanted but those waiting for other procedures, as our doctors’ time is now freed up to see those patients more quickly.

“We couldn’t run our department without people like Niky, Craig, Iain, and Adam and it makes sense to give them the scope to develop and grow their roles for the benefit of all our patients.

“Cardiology offers such fantastic opportunities for all our staff to get involved in interesting work. We are always on the look-out for fresh talent to join us.”