Reshaping heart failure care across Scotland

Meet the two heart failure nurses who are bringing personalised care to Scottish heart failure patients 

4 May 2018, by Siobhan Chan

Janet Reid and Jill Nicholls accepting BHF Alliance Award

Two heart failure nurses are leading the transformation of heart failure care in Scotland as part of the national Heart Failure Hub.

Janet Reid and Jill Nicholls have supported the delivery of the hub for healthcare professionals, supported by the Scottish Government and clinical leads Dr Mark Petrie and Dr Martin Denvir.

Both have first-hand experience of the positive impact that the changes to service can have on patients and carers; Janet is the lead heart failure nurse for NHS Lothian, and Jill is a heart failure nurse in NHS Tayside.

Their experiences and expertise at the front line of patient care have enabled the hub’s progress, because they recognised the challenges facing patients and heart failure teams as well as the need for change across the heart failure system.

Psychological care

One of the hub’s big successes is in delivering training to heart failure nurses across Scotland to recognise psychological issues in patients, as well as building bespoke education packages for palliative care in heart failure.

Patients with heart failure can often experience psychological distress because of their conditions. Access to a formal psychological assessment can be difficult to arrange, so part of Janet and Jill’s work at the hub was to support training for cardiac teams to carry out these assessments themselves.

“By equipping heart failure nurses with the right skills to carry out psychological assessments, they can help patients to identify problems and support them,” Janet says.

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In addition, the hub implemented a new coding system for heart failure patients being discharged from hospital that can record more detailed information than the previous one. The system allows accurate data collection on the type of heart failure people have – for instance, whether it’s on the left or right side.

Better visibility of this information enables healthcare professionals to better tailor care and direct resources to where they’re most needed.

“We know that some types of heart failure benefit from intensive therapies and assessment, and more input from primary care,” Jill says. “By coding correctly, we can tailor treatment to the needs of the patient, and move resource to meet demand.”

The new coding system has now been implemented across Scotland.

Networking with heart failure specialists

Jill and Janet also coordinate an annual national meeting for healthcare professionals called Ensuring Success in Heart Failure, as well as a national conference for people living with heart failure.

“It’s a great opportunity for networking and is always oversubscribed – we have more than 150 health professionals attend every year and about 100 for the patient conference,” Janet says.

Getting heart failure specialists together to learn about new practices encourages people to question the services in their own area and make sure they’re as robust as possible, they say. The patient conference supports people to understand and learn more about their condition, enables them to have their voice heard and meet up with people living with the same condition.

The pair received the Leadership and Engagement award at the BHF Alliance Awards last year for their hard work.

“It was fantastic to get some recognition at the event. It’s been a great deal of work for all the team,” Jill says.

“We are grateful for what we have been able to achieve so far, and look forward to continuing the success of the hub,” says Janet. “We’re now focusing on our work with the Scottish Government on a national audit for heart failure.”


The shortlist for the this year's BHF Alliance Awards, which celebrate excellence and innovation in cardiovascular care, is now available to view. 

See the shortlist