Hundreds of patients are putting off important heart scans until they get a Covid-19 vaccination

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Hundreds of patients are putting off important heart scans until they get a Covid vaccination, a medical professional in Swansea has said.

Around 200 people have cancelled their scans since a coronavirus vaccine was announced, according to Swansea Bay University Health Board, with many saying they wanted to avoid hospital and a perceived risk of contracting Covid-19.

And the delay means they could be putting their health, or even life, at risk, according to the health board’s head of clinical physiology services, Suzanne Churchill.

She said that while she understood concerns, extensive safeguards against the virus were in place at the outpatient clinics, and the risk of permanently damaging their health or even risking their lives from not getting a scan in time was significant.

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She added: “Our outpatient clinics are in a completely different area to the hospital wards, and we don’t see any ward patients.

“Our staff are in PPE and we have separate waiting areas where we have reduced the number of people in them so they are able to physically distance easily.

“Patients coming for a scan are in and out in under half an hour.

“We have done everything we can to ensure safety, so there’s no need for anyone to be worried about attending their outpatient scan.”

The scans are done at Morriston, Singleton and Gorseinon hospitals, but around 50% of current appointments are not being kept.

As well as cardiac scans, the service also supports some cancer patients who need investigations ahead of their treatment.

In addition to the risk to health if scans are delayed for months, the service also faces being unable to cope with a late surge in demand.

“These scans are not every day routine ones,” she said.

“If these patients are called for a scan it’s because they need one. If they put off the scan and it’s left too late then they could end up with permanent damage to their heart and in some cases could risk losing their lives.

“With valve monitoring, for example, there is a window of opportunity to act and if that is missed the heart will be too badly damaged to recover. I liken it to a tsunami – We can already see the tide pulling out, and at some time in the future it will flood back in and overwhelm us.

“We won’t be in a position to see a lot of people at once so patients who have put off their scans will risk further delays. So we are urging people to please come for their scan when we’ve invited them in for one. It’s really important that they are investigated on time.”

Executive medical director, Richard Evans, added: “It’s really important that people seek medical advice if they have serious symptoms or are due to attend an appointment for a test such as a heart scan.

“We know that not as many people as we would expect are coming to hospital with conditions like heart attacks and strokes and we’re concerned that they’re avoiding seeking medical attention because they’re worried about Covid.

“We are only calling people for appointments when they’re really necessary in order to prevent that condition becoming more serious. All of our departments are now expert in making sure everyone can attend safely and with all the appropriate precautions in place. ”



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