“It’s been a concerted effort by the chest pain team, supported by the cardiology consultants, booking office and cardiac department,” explains Chest Pain Support Practitioner, Will Delacour. “Through refining the way we work and redesigning parts of the patient pathway we’ve been able to get waiting times back down to just under two weeks.”
Audits of the team’s patient activity identified a number of areas where they could make improvements. This included minor changes to GP referral forms to enable more accurate vetting of referrals and reducing unnecessary diagnostic investigations to make more efficient use of clinic time.
“We no longer book all patients into a ‘one-stop-shop’ style clinic,” says Will, “as many patients who didn’t need additional investigations meant we were wasting valuable scanning time. By booking these separately, we can now make sure we fully utilise appointments for investigations, ensuring every clinic is full and we also see far fewer DNAs.”
The team has also been smart about planning capacity around the Christmas and New Year period, running additional clinics in the weeks before to compensate for any that would be lost over the holiday period. These additional clinics were facilitated by staff having no annual leave in the two week Christmas period.
“It has meant this well-led team has been ideally placed to start the New Year,” says Associate Director of Nursing for Medicine, Liz Trew. “They have worked amazingly well, picking up a problem and taking the initiative on finding their own ways to resolve it and to improve safety for patients.”
It is now easier for the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic team to expedite patients at higher risk of a serious cardiac event. They have also been working closely with colleagues in the Emergency Department to ensure patients seen there as emergencies are appropriately referred.
“Our efforts have been aided by a small drop in referrals and we will continue to monitor our waiting times closely and work flexibly to maximise our service provision. A really big and genuine `thank you` to all involved in getting us back on track.”