GUCH News

Covid-19 – Updated 8 September 2020

During the current pandemic, many patients are understandably concerned about their risk of severe complications should they contract COVID-19.

According to the Government’s advice, the following cardiology patients were considered ‘highest risk’ and defined as ‘extremely vulnerable’ and initially advised to ‘shield’ (isolate):

  • Those who have received a heart transplant
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.  If you are pregnant and under the care of the maternal cardiology service you will be advised individually about whether you fall into this category

The government is advising that you do not need to shield at the moment. This is because the rates of transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the community have fallen significantly. Specific guidance on what will happen if there is a local lockdown.

The following patients were considered ‘higher risk’ and defined as ‘clinically vulnerable’ (if you remain unsure if this applies to you, please email us):

  • People over the age of 70
  • Patients under 70 who have been diagnosed with chronic heart disease such as heart failure. This only applies if there is a significant abnormality with the structure or function of your heart

If you are clinically vulnerable you:

  • can go outside whilst retaining social distancing
  • can return to work; visit businesses such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, while keeping two meters away
  • should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace

Patients with any other diagnosed heart condition should follow the “general population advice”

2 September 2020

Exiting the period of lockdown can be a worrying time for patients of all ages who are living with congenital heart disease, particularly for those extremely vulnerable patients who have been “shielding” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now that the levels of Covid-19 in the community have fallen, government advice in all parts of the UK is that shielding is no longer necessary so that extremely vulnerable patients can return to education or to work.

Guidance

Patients with congenital heart disease should continue to follow government advice with regards to Covid-19 including advice about returning to work and school.

Detailed information on return to school and work has been published for each of the nations of the UK. This includes advice for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (those who have been shielding) which include some adults and children with congenital heart disease. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should have received a letter confirming this or have been told directly by your GP or hospital clinician.

This advice is that those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group no longer need to follow previous shielding advice. Guidance advises attending school and returning to work for this group of patients as the remainder of the population. Details of each nation’s arrangements and associated precautions are found at the links below.

While patients who have been shielding can return to work and to education, they should continue to follow the advice on social distancing, hand washing, cleaning and should try to keep overall social interactions low.

If there are further national or local outbreaks of the virus, and further restrictions are needed, the government, or local authority may advise clinically extremely vulnerable people to resume shielding. This will be determined by local circumstances and will not always apply when further restrictions are brought in.

Adults with congenital heart disease returning to work

Adult patients who have been shielding can return to work provided the workplace is Covid-secure. Working from home remains encouraged where possible. You may be able to take up an alternative role or change your working patterns temporarily.

If you need support to work at home or in the workplace, you can apply for Access to Work.

Access to Work will provide support for the disability-related extra costs of working that are beyond standard reasonable adjustments an employer must provide.

Children and adolescents with CHD returning to school / further education

Children who have been shielding should attend schools in keeping with the wider guidance on reopening of schools.

Related guidance

Immunisations

Although there is, understandably, a focus on Covid-19 at present it is essential that patients keep up to date with relevant immunisations, particularly Influenza as we enter the winter months.

Cardiac Procedures

Patients who are coming into hospital for cardiac procedures will be specifically advised about isolation and/or COVID-19 testing precautions. Be sure to ask about such precautions when you are contacted.

BCCA 27 March 2020

New Staff

Chloe Mercer is a new GUCH nurse starting in March 2020.

Gold Award

Some of you have probably seen on Social Media that our very own Toni Hardiman won the Gold Award at the CNO (Chief Nursing Officer for England) Awards recently (only the 15th Gold Nationally).

This is a massive achievement and credit to the service that Toni has provided to the complex group of GUCH patients that she cares for.  Well done Toni, we are all very proud of you!

GUCH Information Morning – October 2019

We held our annual information morning for GUCH Patients on Saturday 12th October 2019.  We had good attendance.  Topics  included medications management, preparing for heart surgery, presentations from the Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing service and Deniz Paradot from Integrated Qigong (IQ) for Health.  Please email the GUCH nurses if you would like copies of their presentations.  As usual our amazing patient stories were well received:

“…brilliant, brave, inspiring, helpful, very well told, very informative…”

Patient Reported Experience Measures – July/August 2018

Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMs) are questionnaires that patients are asked to complete to assess how they feel, from their own experience and perspective. These have helped our GUCH team decide what care is best for you and help us plan future service developments.

Of the 53 GUCH patients we gave questionnaires to, 24 responded:

  • 100% considered quality of their consultation with their GUCH consultant to be either excellent or good.
  • 100% felt questions were answered by their GUCH specialist nurse in a way they understood.
  • 100% were likely or extremely likely to recommend this hospital to friends and family.
  • We asked if you had a named cardiac nurse, 91% said you did. We want to ensure all of you have a named nurse – next time you come to clinic we will highlight on our contact card your named nurse.
  • 100% felt treated like an individual, but this is something we are constantly working to improve for you.

“Always friendly and helpful, quick to react when telephoned with problem, excellent service”

“First visit and found treatment excellent”

Our GUCH supporters

Libby, a daughter of one of our patients has just raised over £800 for the Norfolk Heart Trust following her Norwich Forum Library abseil on the 22nd July 2019.

A man whose wife attended our pulmonary hypertension service sadly died recently. He came to see us and presented to Dr Head and the team cheques totalling £400, contributed by her friends and family.

We thank all those who kindly donate to the Norfolk Heart Trust and GUCH funds throughout the year.