Arrhythmia nurse sets up programme to identify patients needing complex cardiac devices

An arrhythmia nurse who helped to develop a screening service for heart disease patients who need a cardiac device has won a BHF Alliance award.

3 September 2018, by Siobhan Chan

An arrhythmia nurse in South Wales has said she is ‘honoured’ to be named Rising Star in the BHF Alliance Awards 2018.

Nerys Ubsdell, who is based at Morriston Hospital, led a project to identify patients in need of life-saving cardiac devices.

She has established screening clinics in GP surgeries and community cardiac services, and is a source of essential information and support to her patients.

The BHF Alliance awards, which took place in Manchester in June, celebrate inspirational work that improves care for heart patients. They are judged by a panel of cardiology and healthcare experts who rate nominations on several categories, including how teams and individuals have gone above and beyond the basic requirements of their role.

Cardiac devices

One of Nerys’s biggest achievements has been the development of a screening system to identify patients who need complex cardiac devices, such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronisation therapy pacemakers (CRT-Ps).

These devices can prevent sudden cardiac death in people with left ventricular impairment, but implantation rates in South West Wales are low.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board brought Nerys in to raise awareness of these devices among primary care teams, which then screen their registers for people with coronary heart disease and heart failure and refer patients to secondary care to receive the necessary treatment.

Initially, three GP practices signed up to trial the screening system but Nerys’s enthusiasm for the project, and her tireless networking, led to two more surgeries getting involved.

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Of the 47 patients identified with severe left ventricular systolic dysfunction, 72% were invited to attend the complex devices screening clinic, and of these two-thirds were referred to a consultant for device implantation.

The screening project is now being rolled out to other surgeries across the health board.

Nerys says that feedback from her patients is the most rewarding part of her role: “My patients say I am able to put them at ease and make their diagnosis, procedure, device [and so on] easier to understand.

“The fact that I can help and make a difference makes me feel happy.”

Staffing database

As well as her work on cardiac devices, Nerys has also impressed colleagues with her computing abilities.

She developed a database that allows senior nurses at Morriston Hospital to calculate staffing levels, staff absences and study leave.

The computer program was assessed by senior managers, introduced into the cardiac unit and is currently being rolled out throughout the health board.

“I felt honoured to be nominated, thrilled to be shortlisted and amazed to have won the award,” Nerys said.

“It has improved my confidence and made me feel very happy and proud of the work I have done within the team, in particular when patients benefit from the outcome,” she added.


For more on the BHF Alliance Awards 2018, see our profiles of the winners

Read more profiles