Team Leader, Duncan Sleeman, said
“The team has received recognition awards before but never something at this higher level from NHS England! When I started here two years ago, like cardiac departments across the country, RCHT was struggling to fill student places but after taking a very deliberate approach to supporting and developing our own team members, we have completely transformed our training programme and future-proofed our staffing.”
The team cares for well over 16,000 patients each year, providing cardiac ultrasound, ECG and treadmill testing, pacing clinics and vital support in the cardiac catheter laboratories where specialist procedures are carried out. It also remotely monitors patients with implanted cardiac devices via specialist systems, cutting down the need to travel for routine check-ups, whilst freeing up outpatient appointments to reduce waiting times for others.
The cardiac team was nominated for the awards by Plymouth and Bristol Universities, with which it works in partnership to deliver the healthcare science degree needed to become a cardiac physiologist. It’s similar to a nursing degree with students rotating through different aspects of cardiology, learning theory and skills, before assisting with procedures in clinics and specialist cardiac catheter laboratories.
Sarah Cooper and Amanda Bettoney are the cardiac team’s training and development leads, a role that combines work-based training with academic learning. From the start of the next academic year the team will be supporting six students at different stages in their degree courses.
“Our students have been outstanding. Last year’s cohort produced the highest awarded students in their year and among them was the highest ranking physiologist in country and who also received Bristol University Deacon’s Award. Three will continue to work for us here at RCHT and two have been invited by their Universities to undertake PhD’s, where their areas of research could potentially transform the way some cardiac patients are cared for, reducing waiting times and saving money.”
The team’s mentoring and ethos towards staff development saw it receive an unprecedented 16 applications to join the training programme in October. There are also opportunities for other levels of study and two members of the team are currently studying for an accredited apprenticeship which could ultimately open doors to higher level qualifications.
“I always tell the team they are the best in the country. I’ve often been stopped at national conferences with colleagues from other hospitals wanting to know how we have achieved what we have. What is being achieved here is remarkable; we’re out-ranking some of the biggest tertiary centres in the country. It’s a great testament to everyone’s hard work and commitment.”
The team has been invited to attend an awards ceremony in Taunton on 6th March where the winner for all of the award categories will be announced on the night.