Background A national survey completed in 2008 reported that PEC services were available in only 35% of non-specialist paediatric cardiology hospitals in the UK. In 2012, the NHS Specialised Services Commission recommended that there should be an increased level of PEC services in all hospitals as part of their ‘Safe and Sustainable’ review.
Aim To determine the availability of PEC services in the UK.
Methods An internet-based questionnaire was sent out via PECSIG and NICHe (Neonatologists with Interest in Cardiology and Haemodynamics) contact databases and an NHS directory. Non-responders were followed up via telephone.
Results The response rate was 72% (129 of 179 hospitals). Of these hospitals, 69% had established PEC services with at least 1 PEC employed and 19% had two or more PECs. In all centres echocardiograms were performed by either PEC consultants or specialist paediatricians, with support from echo-technicians in 36%.
Local PEC-led outpatient clinics ran at least fortnightly in two-thirds (66%) of hospitals, whilst 63% of hospitals held out-reach clinics with a paediatric cardiologist from a specialist centre at least monthly. However, 12 of the hospitals without any PEC services reported that they never held out-reach clinics either.
Conclusion There has been a substantial increase in PEC availability in non-specialist paediatric cardiology hospitals (69% as compared to 35% in 2008) but still 31% had no established PEC services. In most but not all hospitals without PEC services, support is offered by tertiary-centres for paediatric cardiology through out-reach clinics.