Blackpool at the heart of ECHO push

Blackpool Victoria Hospital's Cardiac Centre

The Cardiac Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Patients from Blackpool and across Lancashire and South Cumbria have benefitted from an elective recovery scheme which saw hundreds of additional echocardiograms take place.

The push saw almost 800 patients seen across four trusts; Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, East Lancashire Hospitals, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay.

The ‘echothon’, which took place on weekends over two months in February and March, has been praised for reducing the waiting list by 12 per cent.

The collaboration was made possible in part by the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport, an innovation developed at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals in partnership with NHS England. The scheme allows healthcare employees to work across a number of NHS organisations, without the need for time consuming pre-employment checks.

It is hoped the success of the echothon trial can be repeated across other areas to see the region’s trusts working in partnership to help target those areas with high areas of demand.

Angelic Goode, Echo Recovery Lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria set-up the project, to prioritise some of the patients who had long waits for their echo diagnostic scans. ‘We spoke with all trusts across the region to ask staff if they would be willing to collaborate for the project. They were all really keen to deliver the additional appointments and support cross-site working. It has been a fabulous achievement by all involved and has built closer working relationships across our sites’.

Chris Hesketh, Echocardiography Manager at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals said: “This approach had been completed in Manchester very successfully and we were trying to take that on in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

“We were fortunate, as we had access to the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport so that we could all work at different Trusts as needed. This shows what we can do by engaging the wider network, we’re all in a similar situation with waiting lists, so when everybody engages, we can really come together and do great things.

“Going forward, it would be nice to see the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport allow us to target the sites that need the help the most and bring in physiologists from the other centres. That could make a significant impact on waiting lists.”

An echocardiogram is a scan which is used to examine the heart and blood vessels. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic some elective procedures and routine diagnostics across the NHS were restricted or suspended. In Lancashire and South Cumbria this left approximately 6,000 patients waiting for an echocardiogram.

Alexandra Severns, Cardiac Network Programme Manager for Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership, said: “This is a great initiative that took 12 per cent of people off our waiting list in just two months and reassured those who have been waiting longer than necessary for a scan.

“We’re hoping to do this again in future and other specialities are also looking at how it can be replicated.”

If you are the Lead of a network that would benefit from using the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport, please take a look at the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport website.

If you are an NHS employee looking to complete and temporary move and would like to request your own digital staff passport, follow the 8 simple steps.

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