'This is just the start' - the heart nurses breaking down professional boundaries | Our news

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'This is just the start' - the heart nurses breaking down professional boundaries

Nurses in the cath lab learn how to perform radial access

A medical procedure, once the preserve of experienced doctors, in which a tube is inserted through the wrist and onto the heart, has been performed by nurses at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Radial access, so-called after the radial artery, uses the wrist as an entry point for a catheter which is then threaded through the body’s network of blood vessels.

An alternative to femoral access, which punctures the thigh, it is the start of the process to diagnose and treat a number of conditions like clogged arteries and irregular heartbeats.

In most cases, radial access causes less discomfort than femoral access and means patients can get out of bed and walk around much sooner after their procedure.

Clinicians at Barts Heart Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital perform hundreds of radial access punctures each month as part of treatments such as an angioplasty.

Sara and Kev at work in the cath labTraditionally, it was only ever done by a specialist heart doctor, who would also lead the rest of the case.

Applications to the radial access programme opened in the hospital’s catheterisation labs last year.

Two band 6 nurses were chosen, and, after hours of training and simulation, have recently performed their first procedures.

Sara, a junior sister who has completed the course (pictured left with colleague Kevin), said: "It’s a dream come true.

"As a nurse, you see many punctures being performed each week, but I couldn't imagine being the one to do it.

"Doing it for the first time was overwhelming. I feel so fortunate to advance my practice in this way and I hope that many more of my colleagues will follow."

Barts Heart Centre is one of the first units in the UK to offer this training to its nursing staff.

We want colleagues to feel motivated and empowered

Senior sister Paola Ferraro said it was the logical next step for nurses who already have a close relationship with each cath lab patient.

It also shows our commitment to professional development.

She said: "We want our colleagues to feel motivated and empowered and to continue their career with us.

"There are so many possibilities now for nursing. We hope this is just the start."

After a successful pilot, they hope to offer the training to more nursing staff in the future.

The team are also exploring how the project has increased efficiencies in the department by freeing up medical time.

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Add a response »
  1. Renjith Vincent Monday, 17 April 2023 at 05:33 PM

    Congratulations Sara & team! This is amazing work.

  2. Jane Corless Tuesday, 18 April 2023 at 09:37 AM

    I wish to point out that we had a nurse angiographer at our Cath Lab in Whipps Cross who performed 260 cases between 2011 and our closure in 2018, and between 2016-18 123/134 of her cases were performed radially, since we had mostly switched to that route. She worked long and hard to gain all her competencies with support from our consultant cardiologists here at WX.

  3. Jane Corless Tuesday, 18 April 2023 at 12:27 PM

    I will point out that we had a nurse angiographer here at Whipps Cross who performed more than 250 cases between 2011 and our Cath Lab closure in 2018, of which 123 were done radially (during the last 3 years). She worked long and hard to gain all her competencies, supported by the WX Cardiology Consultants and this should also be acknowledged.

  4. Carlo Friday, 21 April 2023 at 11:56 AM

    Congratulations! Welcome to the club of radial access nurses!

  5. lee Monday, 24 April 2023 at 01:46 PM

    How to join the team? This is great news :)

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