UWE Bristol to provide a Echocardiography Training Programme

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Following a competitive tendering process, staff from the College of Health, Science and Society at UWE Bristol have been awarded a Health Education England (HEE) contract to provide a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Echocardiography (Echocardiography Training Programme, ETP). The ETP first ran as a pilot in 2020 and subsequently two HEIs were commissioned to deliver training. This recent HEE procurement for additional training provision is in response to urgent workforce needs.

The term echocardiography refers to medical imaging of the heart using sound waves, similar to the ultrasound scans performed during pregnancy. The procedure is routinely used to look at structures within the heart and to assess its functionality, for example following a heart attack or diagnosis of heart failure. It is also used to diagnose conditions such as congenital heart disease or heart valve problems. There is a significant shortfall in cardiac physiology staffing currently, combined with a substantial increase in demand, especially for staff trained to deliver echocardiography services. As an accelerated training option for individuals with existing relevant qualifications, the ETP provides a means to grow the workforce rapidly, thus reducing waiting times for diagnostic and follow-up appointments.

Dr Karina Stewart, Associate Head of the School of Applied Sciences (Subject Lead for Healthcare Science), Mr Duncan Sleeman (Senior Lecturer in Cardiac Physiology) and Dr Kathryn Yuill (Senior Lecturer in Physiology) lead on submission of the tender response. Dr Stewart said that they were delighted with the outcome. She added that the Level 7 ETP would be an important addition to the portfolio of healthcare science training currently offered at UWE, which includes a degree apprenticeship (Level 6) Cardiac Physiology Practitioner Training Programme (PTP). The team were successful in a bid for HEE funding to purchase equipment and software for simulation of cardiac ultrasound in 2021. This will be key to the delivery of training to ETP students, which will be through a combination of on-campus block weeks and online teaching.

The Health Education England contract is for three years in the first instance. Delivery of the Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Echocardiography will begin in October 2023.

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