Background Recently there have been significant developments in PEC training and service aims including the recognition of Paediatrician with Expertise in Cardiology Special Interest Group (PECSIG) by the RCPCH and British Congenital Cardiac Association (BCCA), the creation of an agreed SPIN-module training curriculum for PECs and the development of PEC-specific service standards by the BCCA.
Aim To find out which clinical services are provided by PECs and to determine the extent of variability in their clinical practice.
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). PECs carried out echocardiography in all hospitals in which they were employed (69%). Support for this service was provided by echo-technicians in 36% of hospitals and by neonatologists in 27%.
PEC-led outpatient clinics were held at least fortnightly in 66% of hospitals. The mode duration of appointment for a new patient was 30 min (range <20 min to >45 min) while for the follow-up appointment the mode was 20 min (range <20 min to >45 min).
Telemedicine facilities were established in only 45% centres, where sharing echocardiogram images via PACS was used most commonly.
Conclusion There remains significant variation in PEC services especially regarding the frequency of clinics, the duration of appointments and telemedicine utilisation. It was reassuring to see a relatively high number of hospitals offering PEC-led echocardiography and other PEC service provision.
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