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New cardiac simulator improves NHS Grampian specialist training

By David Porter

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A new simulator is helping north-east healthcare professional’s perfect heart procedures – without the need for patients.

Vera Lennie, Ben Elliott and Nicky MacBeath try out the new ECHO simulator.
Vera Lennie, Ben Elliott and Nicky MacBeath try out the new ECHO simulator.

The ECHO device is allowing staff – including cardiac physiologists, nurses and physician associates - at NHS Grampian to improve their knowledge and diagnostic skills in cardiology.

Costing more than £85,000, the state-of-the-art learning tool was paid for by the NHS Grampian Charity.

Consultant cardiologist Vera Lennie said: “This simulator will allow a wide variety of doctors and other healthcare professionals to learn new skills and to understand more accurately how the heart works, without the need for a patient.

“It’s an amazing tool for education that will improve our specialists’ abilities to diagnose and treat heart conditions.”

The ECHO simulator consists of a dummy, which is linked to a series of monitors and three probes.

“With the simulator it is possible to practice echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) as well as ultrasound of the lungs, abdomen and pelvis. It allows real time teaching and simulation with a 3D heart model,” Dr Lennie added.

As well as a wide variety of professionals in cardiology, it will benefit staff working in ultrasound in intensive care, anaesthetics, emergency medicine and other areas.

Ben Elliott, deputy service manager, said: “What is fantastic about this is the ability to teach the staff and trainees about heart anatomy, cardiac conditions and how to perform procedures before they see a real patient.

“When we are performing a test or treating a patient, we do not often get the chance to reflect and learn – this simulator allows unlimited time to train. You don’t need to wait for someone to present with a particular condition to allow our staff to learn how to identify it.”

NHS Grampian Charity – the official charity partner of the health board – said it was "supporting patients through the provision of state-of-the-art equipment”.

Nicky MacBeath, from the charity, said: "The simulator will provide an incredible education resource for staff of different levels across a range of specialities.

"Staff will have the opportunity to access valuable, hands-on training time leading to increased clinical skills for staff, and safer and more efficient treatment for patients.

"NHS Grampian Charity manages the generous donations made by our supporters to ensure that they are used for the benefit of patients and staff, and for the health and wellbeing of the people of Grampian.

"We are grateful to everyone whose kind contributions made this possible."

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