When Cilla Bate from Owton Manor was told by doctors she would need to have a pacemaker fitted, she thought she would have to wait days in hospital for an operation.
But like many patients treated in the new cardiology day unit at the University Hospital of North Tees, she was in and out of hospital within 24 hours.
Cilla, 65, visited a practice nurse at her GP practice to check on long term issues she has had with rheumatoid arthritis. While there, the practice nurse carried out a pulse check on Cilla and found she had a slow heart rate, referring her the next day to cardiac investigations at the University Hospital of Hartlepool for an electrocardiogram (ECG) where an issue was found.
From there she was transferred to the University Hospital of North Tees where she was assessed by a heart specialist and told she would need a pacemaker fitted.
To her surprise, later that day Cilla was able to have the operation under local anaesthetic in the cardiology day unit.
She said: “I went along to the nurse for a routine check on issues I have had with arthritis – other than that I actually felt fine.
“When she picked up that I had a slow heart rate and said I would need to be referred to North Tees, I assumed I may have to wait a few days or longer.
“To be sent the same day and told I could have the operation I needed that afternoon was a real shock. Things moved so quickly it felt like a blur!
“Everything was explained to me and things seemed to move very smoothly. The care I had from the staff was fantastic. No one wants to stay in hospital longer than they need to, so it was a relief to be seen and treated so soon.”
Consultant cardiologist Matthew Dewhurst who carried out the procedure said: “This is an example of how healthcare between primary and secondary care should work and how we can optimise the patient journey.
“Because of an astute practice nurse picking up on a slow heart rate, Cilla was seen by a heart specialist who was able to diagnose the issue.
“She therefore went on to have a pacemaker implanted on the same day and left hospital the following day.
“As a cardiology team, now that we have the dedicated cath lab at UHNT we are improving patient experience and shortening time in hospital by implanting more pacemakers for those patients that need them within 24 hours of admission / presentation.”
Lead cardiologist Vineet Wadehra said: “By having a dedicated catheterisation lab at the University Hospital of North Tees next to the acute wards, we are now able to respond quickly when patients need a pacemaker.
“Most inpatients in our trust identified as needing a pacemaker will get treated on-site the same day or next day and go home the day after the procedure.”