Dr McGlinchey, Consultant Cardiologist at the Western Trust said: “We have noticed that the number of patients coming to hospital with common cardiac conditions such as heart attacks has fallen away dramatically and this is a pattern that has been seen in all regions affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We know the public are listening to the public health messages to stay at home and away from hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we don’t think that there are any less patients suffering from these common cardiac conditions.
“We think that patients are avoiding seeking medical attention for their complaints because of the public advice given or perhaps because of a fear on being exposed to COVID-19 if they attend the hospital. We want to assure patients that there are excellent treatment options available for treating common cardiac conditions. Many of the common cardiac conditions such as heart attacks require urgent treatment to avoid complications. The most effective treatment only happens through fast diagnosis and then fast treatment. A failure to access healthcare professionals may have significant consequences for patients and their loved ones.”
A new service to provide a more rapid and safer alternative for patients to access staff has been set up.
“We are asking patients with chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations and blackouts to contact our service by telephone for initial assessment. This is a 24 hours per day, 7 days per week service. An experienced cardiac nurse will assess the history over the telephone. They will have full access to previous records.”
On the basis of the history provided, patients may be reassured that their history is not suggestive of a cardiac complaint; offered a face-to-face assessment to include blood tests, ECGs and X rays; informed to phone 999 to access emergency services if the nurse is concerned.
The face-to-face assessments, Derry and Limavady area patients will be assessed in Altnagelvin Hospital. Assessment in Altnagelvin will be done in an area beside the Cardiology ward (Ward 44/CCU) and away from the Emergency Department (A&E) between 8am and 10pm or in a non-COVID area of the Emergency Department outside of these hours (from 10pm to 8am).
For patients in West Tyrone as far north as Strabane town these assessments will be in Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex Cardiac Assessment Unit.
The all patients the numbers to call are 028 82833129 or 028 77246958.