Introduction Advances in medical and surgical care have improved mortality and morbidity rates in children with congenital heart disease (CHD). It has been recognised that children with CHD and their families benefit from psychology input. In 2010 the National Reference Group for Psychologists working in Paediatric Cardiology drafted minimum standards for services to meet the psychosocial needs of these children. These were approved by the British Psychological Society, the Congenital Heart Service Standards Group and the Clinical Implementation Advisory group in 2013.
Aims The study reviewed the impact of newly introduced clinical psychology service for Paediatric Cardiology patients in Cambridge.
Methods Patients were identified from local paediatric and psychology databases. Children and families were referred to a Clinical Psychologist working in general paediatrics. Access to the service was initially limited the children referred were deemed to be the most complex in the Service.
Results Between March 2012 and March 2014 twenty five referrals were made and 18 patients/families were seen, 2 declined input and 5 are pending. Of those seen, 10 were male and 8 female aged between 4 months and 16 years. There were 116 contacts with the psychologist. Most were offered 6 appointments, ranging from 2 to 20. The reasons for referral were for: parental anxiety/trauma (4), attachment issues (1), adjustment to a new diagnosis (4), management of neurodevelopmental concerns and school difficulties (1), behavioural difficulties (2) and emotional difficulties (6). So far, eleven Service satisfaction questionnaires have been sent to 11 families and six have been returned. All respondents valued accessing a psychologist locally rather than travelling to a specialist centre.
Conclusions This study supports national and local drivers to provide high quality medical and psychological care close to child’s home from birth through to transition to adult services. There is anecdotal evidence that direct family contact with the psychologist has freed up Consultant time and improved shared care. This data together with the standards documents have been used to establish a dedicated cardiology psychology service.
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