Cardiac ultrasound scanning – echocardiography or simply echo – is the most frequent specialist cardiac investigation.
The echo department at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust performs more than 10,000 of these scans every year.
The department recently obtained the highest level of accreditation from the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE), and last month, every patient the department saw received an echo within the national six week target.
The echo department, based at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, has also been recognised and accredited by the School of Health Care Science as a training centre for health care scientists.
Lynne Taylor, clinical service manager for the cardiorespiratory department, said: "This is in recognition of the standard and the complexity of the work we do here.
"The inspection was very rigorous.
"They had a detailed discussion with us about our processes, they assessed the quality of our equipment, the way we train our staff, quality control and more.
"Achieving this accreditation has lifted everybody’s spirits and it is confirming and certifying that we do more than the usual standard. This is recognition of all the hard work the whole echo team has done over the last few years and all the fantastic achievements the staff have made.” An echo is an ultrasound scan which provides clinicians with information about the size, shape and function of the heart and valves – without any risk to the patient.
It involves putting a small amount of gel on a patient’s chest, then placing a probe on the chest and obtaining moving images of the heart.
A routine complete echo scan takes 40-45 minutes to complete. Lynne said: "Apart from cardiology we are used extensively by every other speciality.”
"Any clinician – not just a cardiologist – who sees a patient, in hospital or as an outpatient, and feels there may be a problem with the heart, can refer them for an echo.”