My 1st Cardiac Appt will be by...tele... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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My 1st Cardiac Appt will be by...telephone call??!!


Sorry but this is so wrong, this is like a cancer patient being assessed by telephone, it is JUST NOT possible! This is potentially very dangerous and would certainly result in the NHS being sued should "diagnosis" [or treatment] be incorrect. You cannot assess a patient WITHOUT seeing them, it is that simple. I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say about this.

116 Replies

It's crazy at the moment - my Dad had open heart surgery, replacement valve and aorta repair then a pacemaker fitted in February/March and only got out of hospital just before lockdown. He has had no follow up other than a couple of phone calls, one of which was meant to phone him back on checking why he'd gotten a wee hole in his chest wound but never did (burst stitch we think). No cardiac rehab, he phoned for some physio advice last week because he's having bother lifting his arm more than 40 degrees to be told he'd have to arrange to see a muscular skeletal physiotherapist only to find when he phoned that department he got an answer phone message saying they are all dealing with covid at the moment so no further forward.

People are definitely missing out on crucial face to face assessments and physical tests and no doubt many will slip through the cracks.

If you don't get satisfaction via your phone call make sure you push for a face to face appointment at the earliest opportunity.


AShelby in reply to AyrshireK

It is nuts! I really hope that your father stays well and gets the specialist care he needs

Pewse in reply to AyrshireK

So sorry to read this but can I respectfully ask: is the arm in question one he had a camera pushed up? If so, I had the same, and like your dad, I couldn’t lift my arm without great pain. It took a year for it to become fully ‘operational’. Pushing a camera up a Vein causes trauma to all the tissues, muscles, fascia and cells. They have to heal. Hope he gets well soon.

AyrshireK in reply to Pewse

No idea, it's his left arm, pacemaker is very close to his shoulder joint and he's lost loads of weight since his operation.

I think with the current situation we do have to try and cut them a bit of slack, we are all dealing with something new and it's frustrating and worrying for everyone. I have had some telephone appointments which have worked fine and I've also had some urgent face to face appointments and I'm due urgent surgery in a few weeks so scans and tests have gone ahead but I have also had other follow up appointments delayed indefinitely but nothing I can do about it.

It's not the fault of the Drs, they are doing their best in difficult times.

AShelby in reply to bantam12

I don't agree with cutting them some slack, this is peoples lives they are dealing with, not just mine but others who are more seriously ill. I think it's actually quite shocking.

Qualipop in reply to AShelby

I can't agree with you more. put your foot down and demand. There is no Covid emergency now. It does take longer to clean between patients so things are slower but not impossible

AShelby in reply to Qualipop

thanks Qualipop

Yasyass in reply to AShelby

I agree everything seems to be about Covid and everyone else left aside I haven’t had a ph call from cardio since April it’s not fair to everyone who needs urgent care yes I understand the medical staff are trying their best but I feel like we have been left aside

Tessie28 in reply to Qualipop

Not just that. I had a holter fitted last week. They time the appointments and space out chairs etc. You can work out plenty from a phone call. Plus we very much still have a Covid emergency. If you want to see someone book a private appointment with a cardiologist, costs about £200. They will then decide what tests you need and refer you on to the NHS for the tests or treatment . I'm afraid demanding anything will get you nowhere. And being angry is pointless and puts a stress on your heart. I know I am 4 months post AVR and have yet to see anyone via the NHS.

Ghost84 in reply to bantam12

What are they dealing with? The hospitals are virtually empty. There is no "war zone" covid 19 scenario at ANY hospital. So why aren't patients being given the medical care they need?

DAVEEJG in reply to Ghost84

And you know this is the picture across of the whole of the UK?

Pewse in reply to DAVEEJG

Certainly is in Peterborough.

And in my part of Essex too

Ghost84 in reply to DAVEEJG

Well in the hospitals I've been to which are quiet and empty, why are appointments still cancelled? Why are operations being purposely delayed due to the "covid 19 pandemic" when there is clearly no sign of this overwhelming "tsunami" of Covid-19 cases ? Doesn't add up.

Tessie28 in reply to Ghost84

I think you maybe think the Earth is flat too.

Ghost84 in reply to Tessie28

Silly response really. I just don't blindly believe everything I'm told like a sheep.

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Ghost84

This BBC series filmed the crisis that staff faced in dealing with the Covid Crisis in London at the height of the pandemic.

AShelby in reply to Ghost84

Hear hear!

?? Dye test in January,,,2 failed stent ops in February,,,have not heard anything from anyone,,no face to face from doctor,,,,,7 tablets a day,,I must be ok ?

if it is any consolation, if you are NOT then you can sue! Be well

Pewse in reply to bantam12

Where I live one of the office staff freely tells people that Doctors only see 1 patient per hour - yet we have no cases of the virus here. If that’s the case then those Doctors should have be made to take a salary cut!

I had both, one cardiologist, one oncologist telephone appointment.

AShelby in reply to Rienij70

:O that is outrageous

nannyjanny in reply to AShelby

Same for my husband. Since the start of Covid he’s had one cardiology telephone appointment and all his regular 4 weekly appointments have been by telephone. Even the one with his 3 monthly scan result!!!! Not impressed.

AShelby in reply to nannyjanny

no, neither would I be!

Not sure really what you expect from your 1st ever cardiac appointment.

Mine in the past have been go in, have ECG and echocardiogram done, then wait to see the cardiologist who will discuss the results.

Have you had any tests done prior to your cardiology appointment that you are awaiting results on?

AShelby in reply to Derbados


valeriep in reply to AShelby

I'm not quite sure what the appointment is for, if you haven't had any tests. My first cardiac appointment was for tests, a technician then told me I'd need more tests, which I had and received a phone call the same day saying "We don't like what we're seeing here, we're arranging for an angiogram", during which a stent procedure failed and I was told in the lab that I would need a bypass, and it was only when they found complications that a cardiologist actually sat down and discussed my case with me - and all this was 3 years ago. I've had 2 hospital appointments recently, one a phone call from the lipid clinic, the other in person at the vascular department as it involved a scan. In the first, we discussed my blood test results (which I'd had done at the hospital walk-in centre the week before), in which my cholesterol levels were slightly raised, and we agreed I'd work on my diet and do it again in December. It took less than 10 mins. For the second, I waited 15 mins for the scan, although I was the only person in the department; they said they would email the results to the consultant upstairs immediately, but I then waited 90 mins while the nurse chased them up and when they finally arrived, I had a 4 min chat with the consultant, who said nothing had deteriorated and she'd see me again in December. Obviously, good news, but in all, I was in the hospital 3 hours, plus an hour travelling time each way. So it's easy to see how phone appointments save money for both the NHS and me (I'm self-employed) and TBH, I think things were going that way anyway - the pandemic just speeded up the process. If your appointment is simply to ask you if you're willing to attend hospital to have tests (it seems they have to ask these days), I don't see any harm in it being on the phone, although if it's to discuss a treatment plan or complications with your case, then yes, I agree, face-to-face would be much better, but the cardiac route is a well-established one and you don't actually get many consultations along the way, unless you have a problem.

AShelby in reply to valeriep

I have had many tests and all the data is in. Yes it is to discuss a treatment plan going forward

Tessie28 in reply to AShelby

So why do they need to see you to discuss something? Good Lord!

Sunnie2day in reply to AShelby

If you've had no tests, then this first consultation is to evaluate which tests your cardiologist wants to refer you for and to determine level of urgency.

While it is true part of the face-to-face (f2f) consult consists of the cardiac nurse or consultant (in any speciality) taking in visual clues that can only be seen f2f, it is possible for a first consult done via telephone or video conference to be effective for evaluation.

Give it a go, you may be pleasantly surprised at how well it works out for you.

I feel your frustration... Was diagnosed in Jan/Feb this year & yet to have any follow up at all. I've been told I'll get an echo appt but 'clinic' appt will be by phone. I'd far rather it was in person, but I guess we're lucky we don't need urgent medical care & are therefore deemed ok with this method. Hopefully some kind of normality will return soon...

AShelby in reply to Oboebec

stay safe

This is difficult. The only reason why I needed to see someone was to have physical checks, BP, ecg, weight pulse etc and of course endless blood tests. That has to continue. However I could have had nearly all appointments remotely. The cardiologist specialists never touch you and spend most time looking at their screen. I am v happy having GP treatment on the phone. The only reservation I have is that it is necessary to prepare for the session, writing down all symptoms and all questions and of course answers. Recording them might be a better option! But we are all different and some will find the presence of the doc more reassuring then others.

Have not long had my most recent cardiac review by telephone following Echocardiogram and blood tests. Was just as effective as my previous consultant appointment. Can I enquire what your condition/treatment was and what you were expecting from this appointment?

My last one was by telephone , but sent me written report

I had my "telephone" session with the cardiologist and it was a very unpleasant.

having had my HA few months ago, am still experiencing various issues and following an Cardiology Echo she called. The way she dealt with the whole thing lacked empathy / sympathy / concern that she is talking to someone who was really anxious and scared...... she presented her diagnoses / recommendations in such manner that am still trying to digest.

I thought her rather abrasive approach and attitude is down to too much workload and just went back to my GP relaying my concerns. No luck there.

during the call and later in her letter she stated that I have "thrombus within my left ventricled" , a secondary echo last week confirmed that I do not have the clot she referred to. so you can imagine how I felt between the day I spoke to her and the 2nd cardio.

I am seriously considering a second opinion and currently trying to gather as much info as I can about the cost of private consultation and / or how can I ask my local hospital for a second opinion or another consultant without causing too much stress.

I know we are living in very strange days but still with serious cases i.e. cancer, heart problems...etc the NHS needs to review this remote and distant sessions.

Pewse in reply to Ocset

I paid to see someone privately and for a half hour session it worked out to £4 per second. Yes - second. That might give you some idea.

Ocset in reply to Pewse

OMG. Harley Street prices. years ago joined bupa through a promotion but cancelled it few months after thinking I am working paying my dues and the NHS will always be there.... well, it is here and many are doing a brilliant job but its a post code lottery who do you get and how much of assistance they can offer. How sad.

Prada47 in reply to Pewse

wow £1800 that is Harley Street prices I would want a heart transplant for that sort of money !!

Stay Well Stay Safe

AShelby in reply to Ocset

I agree with you, I do not like the telephone at the best of times. Going private is probably what they want you to do, don't give them the satisfaction! As for a second opinion; do it, just ask, I have done that previously with another health issue, it was not a problem, it is YOUR health here, not theirs and you have every right to seek another opinion for your own peace of mind, stay safe.

itsme63 in reply to AShelby

If you have heart problems, the NHS are doing the best that they can, there's no reason to get angry, its not good for your heart.

AShelby in reply to itsme63

Oh the irony...I am not angry, but I am puzzled

Ocset in reply to AShelby

Thank you. will do.

Freesport in reply to Ocset

I also got frustrated with not being able to see a Cardiologist at the Royal Free relating to my AF. No one even picked up the phone to reply to my calls, or got back to me when my wife left a message, and my wife had worked at the hospital before retiring for 24 years. So I got in contact with the Royal Free Private Patient unite at Hadley Wood, Barnet. Had a great consultation with a Royal Free consultant.

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Freesport

I have my care at the Royal Free too.

I had a telephone consultation at the end of April with an email follow up.

They are starting face 2 face appointments this month. My next appointment is in October.

The Covid crisis has been unprecedented and the Royal Free was one of the hospitals dealing with the highest number Covid patients nationally.

Jsb1961 in reply to Ocset

Hi There

So sorry to hear about your bad experience . You mention you are maybe thinking about going private . This is only my opinion. I had a defibrillator fitted at a large private practice. After taking a turn for the worst in the early hours of the morning the sister on the ward bleeped for a doctor ASAP to visit as help was required. After a lot of checking me over the staff then informed me that they where transferring me to a major London NHS Hospital .

Everything was happening so fast but when I arrived at the hospital a Cardioligist & pacing Technician checked me over & the next thing I new I was being prepped for another operation.

It turned out they had nicked something while placing the leads in that had cause my breathing to become very shallow & blood was in my stomach. The next thing I remember was awaking the following day to be told that they had rectified the problem in theatre.

To add insult to injury I was then informed on the 4th day that I was being treated for sepsis.

So I’m truly thankful to our wonderful NHS

I was later informed by the cardiologist that some times things can go wrong & just said to me to check the next time if the Private Hospital has the facility’s to cope for emergencies when things go wrong. Enough Sai

Ocset in reply to Jsb1961

Thanks for your message. Don't get me wrong I have the utter most admiration for the NHS and used it all my life but its not as it used to be. Considering going private was just for a second opinion as I had my concern about the cardiologist who dealt with me. I had the feeling she just regarded me as "another" case in her in-tray that she needed to tick. Her approach was abrasive and she can certainly do with some training on how to relay information to worried patients...

But will be asking for a second opinion and stick to NHS :)

I am starting to wonder if they ( NHS ) are clearing the waiting lists by using phone consultations. ?? I still don't understand how you can see the Bus Driver or the Check Out Operator Face to Face but not the Doctor. The NHS seems to have forgotten the Customer who has paid for a Service. The NHS is not Free it is costing Billions and if it stops providing a Service people may really Question is it value for Money.

I went out and clapped every Thursday Evening for the Carers not the NHS a service which leaves a lot to be desired.

From a personal perspective I have had Excellent Service, Mediocre Service and Downright Poor Service.

I do think we the Customers deserve an Explanation as to Why the NHS has stopped seeing us !!!

AShelby in reply to Prada47

Well said! I did not clap like a demented seal for the NHS, I used to work in the nhs and have a lot of respect for them but these days the NHS does not appear to be working!

Jsb1961 in reply to Prada47

I think if you where presented with a bill on your discharge I think you would definitely think twice. Most people would be extremely shocked by the cost of things that are used to help during your operation & the cost of the aftercare.

Nurses Drugs Food etc . I really don’t think it’s that bad at all . I can say without doubt they saved my life & for that my family & I will always be extremely great full. 🙏🏻

Prada47 in reply to Jsb1961


Yes I agree it is expensive to provide the NHS but and here it comes WE collectively pay Billions for this Insurance Scheme.

Because that is what it is an Enforced State Run and Controlled Insurance Scheme. It's a little like the BBC you have to pay if you use it or not.

Hands Face Space as Boris would say !!!

Agree. Totally. Following my 2 heart attacks I was rung by the ‘Psychologist’ to ask if I was ‘OK’ - he asked me questions - I answered - there were HUGE gaps of silences before he finally said “That’s fine then, you’re OK?” I actually wasn’t, I was VERY fearful (at the time) of having another one.

AShelby in reply to Pewse

Shocking way to treat people isn't it!

Yasyass in reply to Pewse

Yes I understand it’s as thou since Covid we cannot mention if we have any other symptoms and if we have how is a gp supposed to diagnose by ph or check on our well being yes nhs do a real good job but now diabetics heart patients cancer patients etc have all been left out Covid is a new disease the patients which have other illnesses should be seen to as there is medicine available to help them but we are left aside

I agree AShelby. I live in Pembrokeshire where we have had very few Covid cases, around 1,700 across the whole health authority, which covers 3 County areas, over the whole pandemic. For months there hasn't been a single covid patient in the local hospital. During this time I had a severe flare up of my rheumatoid arthritis and couldn't get to see anyone, only phone calls where they could not see me or assess me. I ended up virtually bed bound. In the end I took photos of my hands and wrists, which were massively inflamed, and posted them in. I was then seen and given injections in my hands. It helped my hands but by then the arthritis had really got hold. More phone calls didn't result in help. I eventually had to go to the hospital for blood tests, but had to call by rheumatology to pick up the forms. By then I couldn't walk. My husband had to take me and get a wheelchair. It was only when the rheumatology nurse saw me in the wheelchair I was taken seriously and given an emergency course of steriods pending a longer term treatment plan. I had an appointment with rheumatology cancelled right at the start of lockdown, had that appointment gone ahead this flare up would of been nipped in the bud.

Also, I have heart failure, asymptomatic mainly. That was picked up during a routine rheumatology check up two years ago. The nurse taking my vitals noticed a low pulse rate, for two appointments in a row, and suggested I got it checked out. I did. It resulted in a diagnosis of severe heart failure, EF in low to mid 30s. Since then I've been treated pretty successfully for heart failure. I dont know how long I would of gone and what the outcome may of been without that warning. Phone calls don't include these basic health screenings.

I agree phone calls can sometimes be fine. To get test results if things are fine, as general checkup sometimes where conditions are stable. But not always, they need to be mixed with face to face consultations. I'm alarmed at plans to continue with phone consultations here. I think people need to be seen face to face to be assessed properly. This can be mixed with in between phone calls but phone calls shouldn't replace face to face.

AShelby in reply to GracieOS

I am sorry to hear of your experiences, it must have been very frightening for you. Yes, telephone calls are fine for certain things...but, a patient can only be correctly assessed face to face, it is that simple! Stay safe

I do agree i feel at times we have been thrown to the wolves.No outpatients and no rehab just an online one which you fill in using information from discharge summery mine of which was wrong .Existing conditions amongst other things are listed as having hypercalemia when what i actualy have is hypercalcuria big differance former being calcium in blood latter meaning calium in urine,and a few other mistakes.Im not confident doing an online class with no nurse present as i am dizzy and light headed. I know there are other people waiting weeks for conditions that would have been seen under the 2 week rule then having to do it on phone.Covid has wrecked havoc with so many lives in ways we would have never thought possible. I hope and pray they can find a way to open up these vital services soon.

I completely agree with all that has been said here. We can not even get blood taken at our GP's practice and so have to have it taken at another health centre. So why can someone take blood but my GP can not give me a much needed steroid injection into my hand and knee!!


I was due to see the consultant orthopaedic surgeon in July after a 12 month wait, but this was changed to a telephone appointment.

I received 2 letters informing me of the date, time & it would be deemed a missed appointment if I was not available, costing the NHS £164. On the appointed day & time I dutifully sat there. Nothing. I didn't not go for my usual walk.

The next day I rang the department number and left a message as nobody answers.

I received another two letter after that saying I now had hospital appointments in December, but no apology, of course.

A friend's wife is a consultant radiologist and still is working her 3 days NHS and 2 days and evenings private. She uses the same NHS equipment for the private work as she offered to look at my problem there, for a nice fee.

Her hubby was moaning that she received a tax bill from HMRC for last year. It was £12,000 for her private work. He said her NHS salary is 'over £100K' & his own job as an administrator is just for his 'pin money'.

Jsb1961 in reply to Meenzer

I don’t know if any radiologist earn any where near that amount & I should know my wife is one

So please don’t believe all your told

Meenzer in reply to Jsb1961

His wife is a consultant in a teaching hospital so I don’t know if that makes a difference in a pay scale. My partner is German & Chief internal medicine doctor in a German ICU & he says he can get twice the salary working for the NHS in London but he won’t give up the better quality of life & the superior health care over there. His hospital is like Google headquarters, all modern & high tech so I don’t blame him.

I totally agree. I was lucky enough to have my AVR in December 2019 and fortunate enough to have the first few weeks of cardiac rehab before the lockdown. The rehab team were superb by the way. I then got a letter saying I would have a follow up telephone consultant with my surgeon. I was really looking forward to it, to be able to discuss my improvements and possible concerns. I was very dismayed when I got a brief call from a different surgeon who I had never even heard of, or met. It was clearly just a box ticking exercise. Not impressed at all.

AShelby in reply to Mikedabike

It is very important for patients to have that personal touch [of being able to sit and discuss the condition/s and concerns face to face] To be called by someone who does not know you or one who has no experience of your medical history must have been a tough pill to swallow. I hope you're well, stay safe.

I would like to think that the initial appointment is likely to be a triage session and dependant on the outcome a discussion or physical consultation would follow.

I have had this happen more than once with my GP since the advent of Covid- 19

I had an ablation a couple of weeks ago, in quite chaotic conditions, with no follow-up or advice for after-care. Have since had serious problems with very rapid heart beat and return of Afib but I can't get to speak to anyone to get advice as to whether this is normal or not, and what I should do. Only option it seems is to go to A&E and be treated by medical staff with little/no cardiac knowledge or any knowledge of the procedure I had.

The hospitals are half staffed, half closed....I live in an area with one of the lowest Covid infection rates in the country. I just don't understand it.

AShelby in reply to PeterGabriel

I am sorry you have experienced this. I don't understand what is happening in the NHS either. They are either open for business or they're not! If NOT, WHY not?

Think you need to appreciate the situation we are in. Who do you think will be involved in the care of all the Covid 19 cases in intensive care beds ? Cardiologists are doing their best and I’ve had face to face and telephone consultations. It’s up to you as a proactive patient to do your research prior to your phone call and identify the questions you would like to ask. Tests are still being done and results can be discussed over the telephone. We need to appreciate the free service we get through the NHS and always remember if you are really unhappy and go private. My last telephone call told me the waiting list for an ablation (I’m in AF 30% of the time) was a year.....I’d like it sooner but appreciate they are busy in these challenging times and risking their lives offering their service to Covid patients as well as their usual group of patients.

AShelby in reply to Lucymoo

I must ask; what Covid patients? Covid19 hospital admissions are in single figures in most regions of the UK with ever declining admissions to ICU's - FACT

Lucymoo in reply to AShelby

Fact Covid 19 patients are being left with long term health issues so adding to an over stretched nhs workload. Give over tired doctors a break.....

PeterGabriel in reply to Lucymoo

The Covid infection rate in my region is one of the lowest in the country, so hospitals and doctors cannot have been overwhelmed. Yet the local hospitals are half closed, half staffed, many are now on holiday. Why? And the NHS is not a free service.....not for most of us....we've been contributing to it all our lives, just like a private health insurance. Yet we the customers are not getting service.

Lucymoo in reply to PeterGabriel

Not wanting to get into any debate, yes we pay as we work and some people take out more than others, some people make poor health style choices but when you call that ambulance, when you attend A&E, when you are admitted to hospital you are not given a bill....... or asked to prove you have insurance. I worked 30+ plus years in The NHS and feel people are quick to judge negatively and wouldn’t it be better to appreciate the service. Isn’t a telephone consultation better than no service? Restrictions have impacted on a national basis and you may not be aware of staffing issues or demands. We have never met this situation before and numerous health professionals (119) and support staff have died........ and 46210 patients have died in the UK

PeterGabriel in reply to Lucymoo

In most other developed countries healthcare is funded by insurance paid by your employer....and you, the customer, have lots of choice over what medical care you need....choice of doctors, treatments, immediate appointments. Here we, rather than the employer, pay the tax to fund the healthcare. I worked in America for six years, and I know how much better it is there for working people. For those who aren't working, they must rely on a state healthcare provision, which admittedly is not good.

Of course we mourn those who have died from coronavirus, but more people are dying unnecessarily every day from other diseases as they aren't getting the treatment they need. Until the NHS gets back to full operation, more people are going to suffer.

Prada47 in reply to Lucymoo

we need to appreciate the Free service we get. Which bit is Free?? it is only Free at point of delivery.

My friends daughter is a Senior Nurse on an Infectious Disease Ward and she is back to Normal Duties !!!

The crisis is over I am not saying it's back to Normal but if a Mask prevents the spread and Hand Gel etc like we have been told what's the problem ?

Stay Well Stay Safe

AShelby in reply to Prada47

Thank you for your reply, with safety measures in place there should be no problem seeing a GP or a consultant! I can go and get my hair cut, I can do my shopping [grocery and luxury goods] then pop down the pub AFTER a meal in my local restaurant but I cannot get a F2F GP appt or a consultation in hospital for serious reasons??? :O The NHS has ceased to work!


I sympathise hugely and remember the shock I had when I first discovered I had heart issues - c.5 yrs ago.

Since then I was monitored (ecg/scan etc) every year, then 6 monthly.

I was discharged from hospital last week having had valve + aortic root replaced. There were very few spare beds anywhere in the hospital, the staff are working miracles under COVID operating rules ?(to the extent they're not meant give physical comfort like holding your hand/hugging) , there are no visitors.

If you you have a heart condition the very last thing you need is COVID, however frustrating and worrisome it is not to have face 2 face. It's nothing to do with capacity - it's patient safety.

You don't say why you've been referred to a cardio so I don't know if my experiences will be relevant - my surgeon consultation was by telephone and I had CT angiogram and MRI scan in June.

Do let this group know how you get on.


AShelby in reply to StevepH2012

thank you

Most I’ve ever had test wise at a first cardiology appointment is an ecg, and not even that on every occasion. Any other tests required were discussed with the doctor and then arranged for a later date. I get that you’re not keen on the idea, and that you don’t feel it’s currently justified (as a shielder with a high risk child, I’d personally disagree, but we’re all entitled to our own opinion), but really, the only physical difference is not being present in the same room. In the 4 times I’ve been referred in, I’ve never had any kind of physical examination at a cardiology appointment. I can’t even recall having my blood pressure checked.

Throughout shielding, the two of us have collectively had ongoing respiratory, rheumatology, urology, community paeds and GP appointments over the phone or via video, as well as first orthopaedic and colorectal appointments. Wherever they’ve identified a need to be seen in person or for further tests, that’s been arranged promptly and without issue. My GP triaged me over the phone and actively persuaded me to attend in person the same morning because the only way to properly assess me was a physical examination, I just wasn’t keen in the middle of lockdown despite feeling pretty ill. I got a ct scan within a week of speaking to my rheum on the phone. I’ve only ever seen him in person once in Jan when he diagnosed me with inflammatory arthritis and started me on immunosuppressants, and have had 2 phone reviews since then. Were they ideal? No, but I’m not sure that anything in life is or can be at the moment. Did I feel like I wasn’t getting good care? Not at all, I just personally prefer to be able to see the person I’m speaking to, particularly when I’m still building the relationship with a new specialist. That said, though, I’ve had some absolutely abysmal face to face appointments over the years. I mean genuinely dire, where I’ve left thinking it was a waste of everyone’s time, along with seeking help for life-threatening incidents requiring immediate treatment that have been dealt with absolutely appallingly and initially put me at further risk. I guess my point in adding that is there’s no way to know what kind of care you’re going to get regardless of whether it’s in person, because medics are also only human at the end of the day, with all the flaws, foibles and personality disorders to match. Many of the future appointments for the rest of the year are still coming through as telephone or video even as far ahead as December. I don’t take this to mean they don’t care or aren’t interested, but quite the opposite, they’re trying to keep everyone as safe as they possibly can until the situation is stable and well controlled, if we can ever achieve that, including for the safety of NHS staff who are at far higher daily risk of catching covid than a lot of us. You also have to consider that we know a surprisingly large number of people are asymptomatic despite being infected. Unlike with some other viral illnesses, saying don’t come to an appointment if you have symptoms, or don’t come in to staff clinic if you have symptoms, isn’t actually enough to guarantee there’s no exposure for patients or staff alike.

I’m not sure I understand the mentality re. don’t give them the satisfaction of going private. If you’re not happy with the NHS service or you’re convinced they’re likely to miss something by not seeing you initially in person, it’s not about giving anyone the satisfaction other than yourself that you’re receiving the correct care. I need to be referred back in and would love to go private purely to get a quicker appointment and initial tests, but I can’t afford it. If I could though, you can guarantee I would, purely to satisfy myself.

Please don’t take this (or any of my reply) as a criticism, but my own experience is that even if the government of the day look like they’re actively trying to dismantle the NHS via the back door, that’s generally not an agenda within the organisation itself, so for all I can understand you’re frustrated, I wonder if it might be worth taking a step back and just considering if some of the beliefs you appear to have about this being some kind of deliberate, manufactured ploy to deprive people of decent healthcare are actually rooted in fact or stem more from fear and concern about your health.

AShelby in reply to Charlie_G

"the beliefs you appear to have about this being some kind of deliberate, manufactured ploy to deprive people of decent healthcare" - Not understanding your grasp of this thread. What I do say is that the NHS has been URGED by the Health Secretary to return to normal ASAP for serious health problems such as transplants/cardiac/cancer/A&E et al...yet, like schools [teachers], there seems to be a real reluctance to do so! Why this is I am not sure, what I am sure of is that no-one should be playing russian roulette with peoples health/lives yet this appears to be precisely what is happening! And, as for telephone consults...spare a thought for the elderly who maybe cannot hear as well as they could a few years ago, or those with dementia or even those just confused by "tech" like video chat/zoom/snapchat/whatsapp etc! There are many many people without so-called "smart phones" [I am pleased to say I am one of them, hate the things!] who have no idea what an "app" is! What about them?

Prada47 in reply to Charlie_G

Please don’t take this (or any of my reply) as a criticism, but my own experience is that even if the government of the day look like they’re actively trying to dismantle the NHS via the back door, that’s generally not an agenda within the organisation itself.

I would agree I don't think the NHS intends to be dismantled via the back door.

It is the UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES of what is happening. A computer can be programmed to listen and answer a Question. 111 can almost give you an answer as good as a GP ( who doesn't know you ) over the phone. Have you noticed how Chemists are being given a greater role is diagnosing illness ?? Soon I think if we are not careful Primary Care as we know it will not not be required.

Advanced Nurses Practitioners are already running Clinics for Heart Failure and Diabetes, ICD needs re programming see the technician !!

MRI images are being screened by Computers and making less mistakes than humans. I really think there are unintended consequences for GPs. When Hancock and Stevens talk about a revolution in care they think it will be cheaper but is it better !!!

Wash, Hands Face, Covering Space, Social Distance

one of Boris's better ones.

Yes, I agree

I too have had phone consultations when a physical face to face was needed.

No-one has thought out properly how the NHS can have a really good surge capacity.

If people get a telephone call I would say they are LUCKY 😀.

My cardiac team have cancelled all appointments, and they 'review the notes and write to the GP'. I am changing over meds and am having a terrible time with side effects. I have no NHS cardiologist to discuss my symptoms with.

AShelby in reply to TRST

I am sorry to hear this. :(

TRST in reply to AShelby

It's a rum do to be sure. I managed to persuade my GP to do a blood test and I guess I will interpret the results to make sure I don't have kidney damage before I titrate my meds to the next level.

I shall then have to persuade the GP to so *another* blood test .. and go through it a further time if I want to get to a max therapeutic dose.

It's hard to believe I have been so abandoned in this, but looking on it positively, it's empowering so long as I don't make a mistake! 🙂

AShelby in reply to TRST

stay well TRST

My understanding is they make the first appointment via telephone and then can arrange (if needed) investigations it cuts down on patients and hospital staff being exposed to any infection. I have had a cardiologist and an EP appointment by phone and now on waiting list for Abalation.

Prada47 in reply to Maisiemay13

Hi Maisiemay

I understand what your saying but surely it just wasting time Your referring GP has already done the triage other wise you wouldn't have had a referral !!!

Stay Well Stay Safe, Wash Face Space

Maisiemay13 in reply to Prada47

I had an ecg at the doctors,then had a 7day monitor which was arranged after the cardiologist telephone appt,referred me to EP once results received it was good for me I can understand not for everyone.

I work at a GP surgery so guess it’s just something I work with daily arranging appt etc.

Stay safe everyone 🤞

Sunnie2day in reply to Prada47

Well, yes, but no - the GP triaged to the point of understanding speciality care was wanted. The specialist knew the right specific questions to ask to take a decision as to which investigations were warranted given the symptoms.

PS - loving your sign-offs, especially the 'hands-face-space' part. For me, it really does get it all in there in an easy to remember, easy to say blurt, I really like it!

I was going to reply and say I had already had heart failure annual check up over the phone but was going in person in a few days for my pacemaker check. However had a phone call literally just as I had finished reading your post and it was the hospital. Due to illness I couldn’t be seen this week but they would phone me with an appointment in a few wks time. Told them my upcoming holiday dates (Oct) and she made a note to not give me an app during those dates.

Definitely impossible to get a GP app, I’ve had a raging sore throat for several months which I don’t think is important enough to attempt to contact mine - or whoever around - but my husband is telling me I must as he’s fed up with my crackly almost non existent voice!

hope you feel better soon

You should call your GP I can only talk re the way ours work we open appt system at 8.30 for on the day telephone appt,a sore throat is an illness please call them xx

Mickymoo in reply to Maisiemay13

We cant even g

I had to go to A&E in April because my rescue dog has accidentally bitten me on the mouth. I needed 8 stitches on my lips. I rang my GP and hung on for 20 mins but no answer. Went to our local cottage hospital which has nurses as emergency and they sent me straight to WPH. I was v nervous about going but literally no one visible apart from staff. Junior Plastics doctor appeared immediately and stitched me up. I had to have the stitches removed, preferably from GP (ha!) or I could go Plastics weekly surgery. In the end went back to our local cottage hospital and one of the Sisters was happy to remove them.

A&E staff were very concerned that people who were genuinely ill were not going in or being treated.

They are triaging patients over the phone and then making decisions about next steps. My mother was referred by local cardiologist to Papworth, initial phone call with consultant who decided needed to see. 1.5 hour appointment with ECHO, ECG and consultation all in one room to avoid her moving through various rooms potentially contaminating them or getting an infection.

Don’t know about out patient departments where you are but at my local hospital in normal times they are packed with no chance of social distancing. As I’d rather not take my chances with C19 and my heart condition I’d opt for the consultant deciding who needs to be seen next week and who can potentially wait a bit longer.

The cardiology room where we wait is not huge but is not usually that crowded. I imagine (hope!) they are spacing appointments out to allow for social distancing. The doctor needs to sit reasonable near me not next to me for this.

I’d also say social distancing was certainly going on in A&E when I was there, although the doctor who was stitching me up obviously had to be close. She had full mask on but obviously I couldn’t have one on.

I was referred to a new cardiologist at the start of this year who specialises in my condition (ascending aortic aneurysms with a probable genetic basis). My first appointment with her was in March, and it was converted to a telephone appointment as Covid-19 struck.

It was my third time with a consultant cardiologist: I won't say negative things about the previous cardiologist, since he did have the decency to refer me on when I reached the conclusion he was the wrong person for me to be seeing, but 'in person' clinics can involve hanging around for hours, being referred to a registrar because the consultant is too busy, and various other horrors.

The phone clinic started within 5 minutes of the agreed time, lasted 30 minutes, covered every issue that I felt we needed to address, and was quite simply one of the best NHS clinical experiences I have ever had. Obviously, she had seen my scans and read the reports; she challenged some of my assumptions and thinking about my condition, but I now have total respect for her expertise and am convinced I have the right person going forwards. In my case, the next step will be a scan in December and a clinic next March, but I am sure I can get in touch with her if there's any need, and that if the scan shows anything we need to discuss urgently, she'll be on to it.

Your situation may be utterly different to mine, but I'd say: approach it with an open mind.

At my first cardiologist appointment last october he did a physical examination. Firstly asked all of my symptoms and looked at bnp blood test results which gp did. (It was at 1007pg/ml). Hence seeing a cardiologist within 2 weeks. He then asked my usual weight and weighed me with the fluid in my ankles and stomach. He felt my feet, ankles and stomach which were full of fluid, and checked the artery in my neck which in his report said it was protruding. He then organised an echocardiogram and i saw him again 4 weeks later. So for me, my first appointment wouldnt have went well by phone. Xx

AShelby in reply to Mickymoo

And your reply is exactly what I am trying to illustrate to people, that patients do need to be SEEN! Stay safe

Mickymoo in reply to AShelby

Can you maybe get some tests done with the gp before your appointment? Im having a telephone consultation on 1st september, so im gunna ring my gp and ask for some blood tests to be done. At least ile have some more information to tell the cardiologist. There's a blood test called bnp test, which tells them how much strain your hearts under. My cardiologist always does this test after each appointment so i may as well get that done. Weigh yourself too, as he asks my weight at each appointment. Maybe get your blood pressure checked too. Our health centre has one in reception we can use, even though there's no receptionists there. X

I think this Covid excuse right now is a cop out. God knows what they do all day hiding behind the doors of the NHS, Doctors included. They are slowly destroying and selling it off bit by bit is my view. They have a vaccination for Covid you watch it will suddenly appear around the Flu Jab time. I don't mess I have sent some foul emails to my cardiologist secretaries to pass on and bless them they have forwarded them on to the cardiologists. I will sue for negligence if necessary and I know my family would if anything happens to me. They are playing with lives and all lives matter.

AShelby in reply to Brandibell

Yes, time for NHS hospitals and GP surgeries to start seeing people again or take a wage cut maybe?

I am 18 months later still no diagnosis and recently heard I will be sorted in the next 6 months when Covid is over. That came from a new cardiologist who i have never met and was not meant to. I am Deaf I have a balance disorder and these masks/telephone consultations are my worst nightmare.#Deafawareness just doesn't exist in this country at all. Take care.

AShelby in reply to Brandibell

I am very sorry to read that, I cannot imagine how hard it is for people who have hearing problems. Stay well

I had this first time and have another phone appointment next week still not had echo or cardiac mri yet, thought I would have them b4 second app so could discuss results but a longer wait now. I was given my diagnosis by letter! Then put on 2.5mg of ramipril without even speaking to the cardiologist who wasn't aware I have low blood pressure as hospital records don't have your go records in them so went a bit dizzy. So deffo with u on this one

AShelby in reply to Vicks7005

Wow, being prescribed such potent meds without a consult is pretty shocking! Stay well

I so agree with you. Medicine is a hand son profession and should remain so

I agree. There’s going to be collateral damage to people’s health because of Covid and that’s a distressing thought. A lot of people will just put up with symptoms and issues now and won’t even bother to ring the surgery unless there’s an urgent need!

AShelby in reply to Bladerun

Yes, it shouldn't be like that. I agree with the "collateral damage" bit, I am sure many will suffer unnecessarily

My relative had an unplanned, surprise cardiology call/appointment today (a long term patient in their 30s). It was a registrar, not their regular cardiologist. They were very focussed on any recent symptoms of chest pain and/or breathlessness. They were obviously ‘checking up’ on patients for deterioration during lockdown. It occurs to me, that with such a huge backlog of new and long term patients, that they are doing their very best to identify those patients in most imminent danger. Whilst every heart patient is rightly concerned about their personal health, cardiologists have got to start the treatment lists in priority order. It makes perfect sense to me that they are triaging in this way. I have been cancelled and sent home when due a procedure a few times, when others have been a clinical priority on the day. When I have been that clinical priority others have waited behind me. When I have met my cardiologist they have assessed my need for tests, investigation and procedures on reported symptoms, I can look very well sat in a chair not moving. These symptoms can be reported by phone/email without the risk of face to face appointment. Unnecessary face to face appointments increase the risk of transmission of a potentially deadly virus to individuals, groups of vulnerable patients and clinicians who want to be using their talent and experience to treat. In my opinion, it is wise to minimise that risk until investigations or treatments necessitate face to face contact.

HappyJo in reply to HappyJo

Update - now I’ve had a message about an unscheduled cardiology appointment next week (different health authorities). Now I am convinced they’ve doing a ring round to check no one is ignoring serious symptoms in fear of COVID.

My cardiologist was doing telephone consultations before covid. He says there is nothing to gain from seeing me, he had all ecg/echo/blood etc test results, and it saves my travel carbon footprint on the planet.

There is no physical examination during cardio appointments so I guess I'll never actually see him again until I'm an in patient.

I had 2 stents fitted last month and have had Doctors check on me, pharmacists called to give me advice on taking Garlic and turmeric supplements and how it would affect my other medication and a home visit from the Scarborough cardiac rehab team. Could it be an area problem? Voice your concerns with your GP. In my experience even the private cardiologists are only doing phone appointments at the moment but at least the phone calls can get things moving in the right direction. Good luck for the future.

AShelby in reply to Smerblue

Hah, keep taking the alternative remedies! I take Cannabis oil, I won't stop taking it because someone would rather me take the "big pharma" drugs!

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