Cardiac rehabilitation at Northampton General Hospital expanded to support more patients
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The funding is being used to deliver more cardiac rehabilitation to patients who have had a cardiac event and to also support patients diagnosed with heart failure.
Cardiac Rehab Specialist Nurse Sharon Brown said: “During the pandemic cardiac rehabilitation was one of the services paused across the NHS and it was suspended at NGH from April 2020.
“The service was unable to reset due to limited staff and venue availability therefore it was not reintroduced until August 2022.
“We were then able to provide minimal service seeing only in-patients and offering telephone consultations until our exercise instructor joined in May 2023. Only then were we able to restart our cardiac rehab exercise classes.
“Since then though, we have been working to rebuild and expand the service and as part of this we made a bid to NHS England.”
As a result of the successful bid the NGH Cardiac Rehabilitation Team has been expanded with Cardiac Rehab specialist Nurses Sharon Brown and Adriana Popovici being joined by two more nurses on secondments, specialist nurses, Kate Dyson and Madeleine Simpson, and two exercise instructors, Wendy Romain and Vintonie Dasent.
Cardiac Rehab Specialist Nurse, Adriana Popovici, said: “Our overall aim is to help patients to recover and improve their quality of life following a cardiac event, or following a diagnosis such as heart failure.
“We provide an individualised exercise, education and support programme built around the personal circumstances and needs of the patient.
“Until we got the funding from the NHS England we were struggling to provide the kind of care we wanted to deliver with only one exercise venue and limited numbers of clinics.
“However now the extra funding from the project has enabled us to expand the services we offer significantly.”
Expansion has included:
· Increasing clinic availability and times offering more face-to-face, rather than virtual, appointments to 20 patients a week (the service had previously been unable to offer face-to-face appointments)
· Doubling the number of group exercise sessions to three per week supporting 10-20 patients at each session depending on venue
· Additionally, we offer exercise programmes tailored to the patients individual needs catering for a higher and lower intensity exercise tolerance this can also be offered as a hybrid combining the group and home exercise.
· Launching health talks during the session for cardiac rehab patients once a week with a plan to expand to two per week covering other venues. These help patients to increase their own understanding of their diagnosis, treatment, and management increasing their independence and helping them to reduce risk factors to take charge of their health and wellbeing again.
Specialist Cardiac Rehab Nurse Madeleine Simpson said: “We treat all patients as individuals which means we can tailor the exercise specifically to each patient.
“We encourage the patients to ask questions and be curious. Specifically, we have different intensities for the sessions to help ensure our patients are gaining the most from the programme’’
The pilot will run until March 2024 and will aim to improve cardiac rehabilitation for all cardiology patients, including patients with heart failure, which in turn will reduce patient admissions to hospital. It will support patients’ improved overall recovery and long-term management.
Specialist Cardiac Rehab Nurse Kate Dyson said: “Many cardiac patients with a chronic or acute diagnosis suffer medical trauma so as a team we can provide and sign-post further psychological support such as Northampton talking therapies, along with continuous support during our programme.
“Many patients find it difficult to trust their bodies and experience high levels of anxiety after a cardiac event so joining the exercise programme helps them to restore confidence and trust in their own judgement. “
Rehabilitation boosts patients’ confidence
Patients say they feel better prepared to return to normal life after their heart incidents thanks to cardiac rehabilitation.
Part-time construction estimator Frank Thomas, 70, from Weston Favell, had heart-valve replacement surgery in July at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and is on his sixth session of cardiac rehabilitation since October.
He said: “I was always very active and had played badminton and done cycle rides of up to 100 miles. But in May I became breathless and found I needed open-heart surgery.
“After the surgery my confidence was really knocked. I wanted to be active again but at first you aren’t allowed to lift anything, even a kettle, or cough, so you feel really unsure.
“Since I started the rehabilitation though my confidence is back up. The staff are brilliant. They monitor and support you and you find out what you can do. I am now back to playing badminton. I would highly recommend doing cardiac rehabilitation if you are offered the chance. It is very beneficial.”
Retired solicitor Barry Lilley, 71, from Northampton, had a heart attack in July and was an inpatient at NGH. He is now on his fifth session of rehabilitation and found it very valuable.
The father-of-three, who has eight grandchildren, said: “Taking part in cardiac rehabilitation has improved my confidence massively. Everything is carefully monitored and you just build up the exercise. I used to run in an athletic club and I hope to do some gentle jogging again in due course.
“I would recommend the service 100% and give it 10/10 for the way you are looked after.”