Achievement for specialist pleural nurse

A specialist nurse at NNUH has become the first in the region to carry out a procedure that helps patients with pleural disease to manage their symptoms from home.

Cheryl Hardy, who joined the Trust as specialist pleural nurse three years ago, has become the first nurse in East Anglia to be able to insert indwelling pleural catheters (IPC) to enable patients to manage their breathlessness.

Patients with pleural conditions can get a build-up of fluid around the lungs that can cause breathing problems. The insertion of an IPC, which can be done by one of NNUH’s consultants, and now by our specialist pleural nurse, allows patients to drain fluid around the lungs themselves from home.

Cheryl said that expanding the IPC service meant that patients with advanced cancer and pleural disease were able to receive treatment quicker and help improve their quality of life.

“Only a handful of nurses can do IPC in the country, which is normally done by a consultant that specialises in pleural diseases. During Covid-19 we have streamlined the service and we are helping more patients to manage their condition using an IPC at home. We are seeing two to three patients a week and have less patients needing to be admitted as inpatients. With an IPC, half of patients see that fluid stops re-accumulating and we have had very positive feedback so far.”

The procedure to insert the catheter takes about 45 minutes on the Respiratory Investigations Unit at NNUH, which means patients can drain fluid at home and manage their breathlessness without being admitted to hospital.

Dr Eleanor Mishra, respiratory consultant, said: “This is a great achievement for Cheryl and also shows how NNUH is leading the development of extended roles for nurses. She is the only nurse in East Anglia who is independently competent at inserting indwelling pleural catheters.”