Patients from The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust fitted with pacemakers can now have them checked at a new, drive-through service at New Cross Hospital.
A kiosk has opened up on car park P2, just outside the Heart & Lung Centre, where patients can have their devices looked at while they wait. Introduced this week, the innovation is already proving popular and successful.
Waiting times are down to 15 minutes from between 20 and 30, while patients no longer have to queue, go indoors or pay parking charges as it’s all done while they wait in their vehicles. Patients would otherwise have to go to B4 Cardiac Investigation, have their temperature taken, undergo a screening, fill in a questionnaire and wait with a relative in the waiting room.
Emma Painter, Deputy Manager of Cardiac Rhythm Management Services developed the service after seeing something similar at a hospital in Surrey. The service was introduced at the Trust to help reduce contact with patients because of COVID-19 and ease a backlog of around 800 after the pandemic.
Emma and her colleague Lydia Bradley, a Physiologist and the Cardiac Rhythm Management Service Lead, are delivering the service with members of their team. Lydia said: “We’ve had really positive feedback – patients absolutely love it. One said ‘this is fantastic’ and another said ‘you deserve a gold star’.”
One patient, Rebecca Jewell, from Stafford, was hugely impressed by the service. The 36-year-old full-time mother of two said: “When you see ‘drive through’ you wonder what to expect, but it was really easy to find and the staff were so organised and lovely so it was so much easier than I thought. It was really quick and efficient too. Everything was done so hygienically that you didn’t have to touch anything and even the machine was covered in plastic.”
The service, which is open from 8.20am to 5.20pm daily, is available to lower-risk patients who had at least two and a half years’ battery life on their pacemakers at their last check. Patients are passed a device by staff to hold over their chests to check their pacemakers, and staff perform the necessary diagnostic checks and ask patients questions relating to it. Providing everything is in order, the patient is then free to leave. Under the new system, up to 25 pacemakers are being checked each day.
The drive-through facility is expected to remain in place for at least six months and all eligible patients will be seen.