Important Information for Patients during the Covid-19 pandemic
As you are aware the Corona virus pandemic has severely disrupted healthcare services. However, the Community Cardiology Service is continuing to run, and if you have been referred by your GP, you will be investigated by one of the service’s doctors.
To minimise the risk of infection and to keep our patients, staff and the community safe, we have changed the way we are interacting with patients. Please read the following information very carefully:
In most cases the doctor will consult with you by telephone.
The doctor will phone you and spend 10-15 minutes going through:
- Your symptoms
- Your medical history
- Medication that you are taking or have taken in the past
- Your lifestyle
- Your family history
This information will enable the doctor to decide the next steps in your care plan. In many cases we can avoid a face-to-face appointment and give you a treatment plan over the phone, followed up in writing.
While this is a very different service than the one that we normally provide, our aim is ensure patients with cardiac symptoms can continue to receive care but without compromising the safety of the community as a whole. We are grateful for your understanding in these extremely difficult times.
If you are in any doubt or have any questions or concerns please contact our admin team on 0333 332 6946
Monitor- fitting appointment
You will be fitted with a small portable Ambulatory ECG monitor for up to a week to measure your heart’s rhythm over a period of time. This will be carried out at our clinic in Eastbourne or in some cases, at your home by our Cardiographer. We will phone you the day before your appointment to confirm and check the following:
- That you and anyone in your household have had no symptoms of Covid-19 in the last two weeks
- For home visits, who else will be at property during the appointment
The Cardiographer will explain what will happen at the appointment but please do ask if you have any questions or concerns about the fitting.
What should I wear?
The Cardiographer will need to attach sensors to your upper body. Therefore, we suggest that you wear clothes – including underwear – that you can easily remove or unbutton completely.
Can I have someone with me?
If you are having a monitor fitted at home, you are welcome to have a member of your household with you during the fitting, but they will be subject to a temperature check and must not be displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
If you are having your monitor fitted at the clinic we ask you to come alone so that we do not have more people than necessary in the building at one time. Please advise us if you are not able to come alone.
What happens at a home monitor fitting appointment?
The Cardiographer will come to your door wearing new protective gear (gloves, face mask and an apron). She may be accompanied by a colleague who will also be wearing full protective gear. They will introduce themselves and show you their NHS ID.
Before coming into your house, the Cardiographer will ask you to confirm your name and date of birth. She will then take your temperature and that of anyone who will be with you during the appointment. If everyone’s temperature is normal, the technicians can enter your house and proceed with the fitting.
The fitting will take around 10 minutes during which the Cardiographer will tell you how the monitor works. She will also show you how to remove it and refit it yourself for showering or bathing.
The Cardiographer will give you a diary sheet and will explain how to complete it. You will need to return the sheet with the monitor at the end of the test.
How do I return the monitor?
You will be given a bag with cleaning wipes in which to return the monitor and leads. Please use the wipes to clean the outside of the monitor and the leads before placing in the bag with the completed diary sheet. The electrodes should be disposed of in your general waste bin.
The Cardiographer will arrange a date/ time for collection with you. Please could you make sure that you have the bag ready before she comes.
What happens after the appointment?
The information about your heart’s activity will be reviewed by the cardiac doctor who will contact you either by phone or letter to explain the results and whether you will need further investigations and/or treatment.
THE FOLLOWING PROVIDES ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR APPOINTMENT BUT PLEASE NOTE THAT NOT ALL OF IT IS RELEVANT DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
What will happen at my appointment?
You will have a consultation with one of our doctors, who specialise in cardiac problems. He or she will ask you about your symptoms, your general health and lifestyle and your medical history. They may decide you need some diagnostic tests like those listed below. These will usually be carried out by one of our Cardiographer or a physiologist. You can read more about what they do here. (link to people page)
How long will my appointment take?
Your appointment could take up to two hours, particularly if you need to have one or more tests.
What tests might I have?
You may not need any tests at this stage. However the doctor may decide that it would be helpful for you to have one or more of the following tests to help with diagnosis.
- ECG – this can be carried out during your appointment. It is a simple, painless test to check your heart’s rhythm. You can read more about it here.
- Ambulatory ECG Monitor – you may be asked to wear this small portable ECG monitor for up to a week to measure your heart’s rhythm over a period of time. You can read more about it here.
- Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor – you may be asked to wear a small device for 24 hours to get an accurate picture of your blood pressure over a period of time. You can read more about it here.
- Echocardiogram – you will probably be given an additional appointment if you need an echocardiogram as it takes a good 30 minutes to carry out… You can read more about the procedure here.
What happens after my appointment?
The doctor may decide that you do not need any medical treatment at this stage but may recommend some lifestyle changes. They will write to both you and your GP to confirm this.
If you have some tests or are asked to wear a monitor for a set period of time, then we may need to see you again at a follow-up appointment. Our doctor will then write to you and your GP with the results and recommendations for a care plan.
Some patients may need further investigation and treatment with a consultant cardiologist at the hospital. We will arrange an appointment for you and inform your GP.
How do I change or cancel my appointment?
Please ring our Patient Care team on:
0333 3326946 (this is a local call)
We understand that there are sometimes unforeseen circumstances that mean you cannot make your appointment but if you do not let us know, you may be putting your health at risk.
If you cannot attend your appointment it’s essential you tell us as soon as possible so that we can reschedule and free up your original appointment for another patient.
Who will I see at my appointment?
Community Cardiology Doctors
Your appointment will be with one of our doctors – Dr Richard Blakey and Dr Matt Jackson. Dr Blakey and Dr Jackson are GPs with specialist training in cardiology. They will talk to you about your symptoms, your general health and medical history. They will recommend a care plan, which may involve lifestyle changes (such as losing weight), medication, further tests or seeing a Cardiology Consultant.