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​Doctor-led improvement to test results in Merton gets international recognition

GPs and health professionals at St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been working together to improve the system for reporting electrocardiogram (ECG) test results in Merton.

An ECG measures the electrical activity of your heart to show whether or not it is working normally. The test records the heart's rhythm and activity on a moving strip of paper or a line on a screen.

ECGs have been effectively provided in Merton at the Nelson Health Centre by St George's for a number of years - but due to the set-up of the reporting structure and demands on the service, results could sometimes not be provided quickly enough after tests had been carried out.

NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group clinical leads and the St George's cardiac team came together to re-design the reporting system by creating a template which can be completed by cardiac physiologists (allied health practitioners) rather than requiring input from a more senior cardiologist. This has sped up and enhanced patient care and the new approach has received excellent feedback from GPs.

The project was led by cardiologist Dr. Raj Sharma and cardiac physiologists Dr. Nolan Stain and Micah Leitch from St George's and Merton GPs Dr. Aditi Shah and Dr. Shweta Singh.

Dr Aditi Shah, NHS Merton CCG Planned Care clinical lead and Locality Lead for West Merton said: "NHS services and organisations are joining up more and more in Merton as part of the wider integration agenda.

"Local clinicians are increasingly sharing ideas for how small changes can have a big impact on the quality of care. By simplifying the system for getting test results, GPs and patients alike are getting results quicker which is also improving patient experience."

The new approach was presented at the European Heart Rhythm Association conference in Lisbon earlier this month to a great reception and may be adopted as an approach more widely across the world.