Building a person-centred heart disease service in Fife

Arlene Cobban’s work to deliver person-centred care for people recovering from a heart event or requiring treatment for abnormal heart rhythms has won her a BHF Alliance award.


30 July 2018, by Siobhan Chan

Putting patients first has won recognition for Fife-based Arlene Cobban, who has been named BHF Champion in our latest BHF Alliance Awards.

Arlene has put patients’ needs at the centre of the NHS service she manages, NHS Fife’s Managed Clinical Network (MCN).

The MCN aims to improve the consistency and quality of services for heart disease patients, and so far its major successes include developing community exercise and lifestyle programmes for those recovering from heart conditions or events (cardiac rehab). Arlene and her team designed the service to be flexible to tackle poor attendance.

Under Arlene’s leadership, the MCN has also introduced a pathway for psychological support for those undergoing cardiac rehab, as anxiety and depression is common in those living with heart and circulatory diseases.

A recently launched buddy group also means local patients for cardiovascular disease can speak to each other and share experiences.

“Winning the award made me feel very proud to be part of such a great team,” Arlene said. “I could not do my job without the help and support of all the staff and patients who work with the MCN.”

Working in partnership

Delivering the service meant a more joined-up approach. Arlene, who has 18 years’ experience in cardiac care, has brought together health professionals such as local GPs and specialist cardiologists, with patients and carers.

“Providing a platform for patients to share their views and experiences gives the MCN the opportunity to make improvements based on patient experience,” Arlene said.

Arlene also led on an opportunistic screening programme for atrial fibrillation (AF) in Fife, the results of which were presented to the Scottish Government to support its enquiry into AF.

She also works alongside other MCNs, such as those covering stroke, diabetes and respiratory conditions, to develop better services for people with comorbidities.

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Better support for patients

Arlene is looking forward to continuing the MCN’s work, for example in a new project to detect AF by ensuring staff complete a manual pulse check on every patient who comes into hospital and documenting whether the pulse is regular or irregular.

Her team is also currently surveying patients living with fitted cardiac devices such as internal defibrillators to gauge their interest in developing a support group.

“The responses have been overwhelmingly positive and we are looking into ways of providing support,” Arlene said.