Background: Rapid access cardiology clinics provide a rapid assessment and evaluation of patients with suspected chest pain, heart failure or cardiac arrhythmia. Longitudinal data regarding the attendances and clinical diagnoses at rapid access clinics is lacking and may provide insight into their efficiency and role in providing a comprehensive referral service for primary care.
Methods: Data regarding total number of attendances and diagnoses were retrospectively analysed from databases collated by nurse specialists and physicians undertaking rapid access clinics at Charing Cross Hospital between April 2002 and March 2011.
Results: A total of 12 000 patients were seen over the 9-year time period. Demand for Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic and Rapid Access Arrhythmia Clinic has shown a steady rise since 2007 whereas attendances at Rapid Access Heart Failure Clinic have remained constant. The proportion of patients diagnosed with significant cardiac disease across all rapid access clinics has not changed significantly. The most commonly diagnosed arrhythmia was atrial fibrillation (15% of all attendances).
Conclusion: Referrals have increased to our service which suggests that demand for a rapid access cardiology service remains high and the proportion of patients diagnosed with significant cardiac disease has remained constant. Despite considerable motivation towards providing primary based care this has not occurred in our local area and we believe this shows that our model, based in secondary care to be both efficient and accessible to local GPs and patients.