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Waiting times for test slashed

Nurses providing complex procedure for first time

Waiting times for a complex diagnostic test for some neurological conditions are tumbling at Poole Hospital.

Patients requiring a lumbar puncture can now be seen by a nurse, performing a role traditionally provided by a doctor, on the hospital’s medical investigations unit.

A lumbar puncture is used to take a sample, or measure the pressure, of fluid in the spinal cord. It can help in the diagnosis of conditions including multiple sclerosis and pressure-related headaches.

From this week, the procedure is now offered by senior nurse, sister Joy Peeke, who has undergone months of training from doctors specialising in neurology at the hospital, led by Dr Amy Ross Russell, both pictured.

Waiting times for non-urgent lumbar punctures have been around two months – now patients can have the test in just two weeks.

“We’re driven to improve our practice on the unit every day,” said Joy.

“Offering lumbar punctures is a further extension of the extended roles nurses perform here. It means that not only can patients be seen sooner, and their condition diagnosed, but doctors can focus on giving the expert care that they provide.”

Amy, who joined the hospital last year, says she was keen to introduce the service here, having seen it work well elsewhere.

“I had experience of nurses performing this role at a teaching hospital,” said Amy.

“When I joined Poole Hospital, I saw the nursing staff on the unit are incredibly motivated and passionate about developing their practise, so we explored including lumbar punctures to the wide range of diagnostic tests already offered.

“It is rare to find this service being provided by a nurse at a district general hospital, and a great credit to Joy’s commitment to giving great patient care.”

The medical investigations unit has a history of providing cutting edge nursing care. Nurses on the unit became among the first in England, outside of hospital emergency departments, to prescribe blood and blood products as part of routine care in 2012 – another service previously only provided by doctors.

The unit offers treatments for a range of conditions including multiple sclerosis, a range of cancers and haematological conditions, as well as neurological disorders and anaemia. Patients with diagnosed or undiagnosed conditions are assessed by nurses, who then make decisions about the clinical care needed, including prescribing medication.

Care is delivered in bright and spacious surroundings, and the unit has views over Poole bay, promoting calmness and relaxation.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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