Service for blackout sufferers launches at Friarage Hospital

Members of the cardiology team with representatives from The Friends of the Friarage who donated £35,000 to help buy new equipment for the service.

A new service for sufferers of blackouts has launched at the Friarage.

Patients who suffer from blackouts can often find themselves facing numerous medical appointments and tests to find the exact cause of the problem.

But those attending the Friarage Hospital are set to be diagnosed faster in the future thanks to the introduction of a blackout service which will enable people to be assessed by a range of specialists in one place.

The new clinic, which is based in the cardiology department at the Northallerton Hospital, has been supported by a £35,000 donation from the Friends of the Friarage and will start taking referrals from 27 July.

Around half of us will experience a blackout at some stage in our lives. For most, there will be a simple explanation such as feeling very stressed or anxious or suddenly being exposed to an unpleasant sight.

For others, however, blackouts can be caused by a problem with the heart or the head, such as heart disease or epilepsy, or their body may overreact to certain triggers.

Blackouts cause three per cent of emergency department attendances and one per cent of all admissions to hospital and can affect people of all ages.   There are many causes which can result in patients having appointments with a number of specialists, having a prolonged stay in hospital, or leaving without a clear diagnosis.

The blackout service will provide fast access to experts from a range of specialist teams at a dedicated outpatient clinic. This will bring several benefits to patients, including:

  • Providing faster assessment and diagnosis
  • Reducing the number of unnecessary tests performed
  • Reducing misdiagnosis
  • Reducing the number of low-risk patients admitted to hospital
  • Reducing the length of time they have to stay in hospital
  • Providing appropriate onward specialist referral through a dedicated service

The service will run in a similar way to the successful blackout clinics at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. Initial assessments will be performed by specialist/consultant nurses with clinical support from consultants in cardiology and neurology.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Turley said: “It’s fantastic to be able to offer this new service to patients at the Friarage Hospital. They can now be seen quicker and diagnosed faster with fewer tests. It will also reduce unnecessary admissions as anyone experiencing blackouts can now be referred directly to our specialist team.”

Consultant neurophysiologist, Dr Simon Taggart, said: “I’m delighted that the new blackout service is opening at the Friarage Hospital, allowing those who experience blackouts of any cause to be seen quickly and locally by the right specialist teams.”

Upendra Somasundram, co-chairman of the Friends of the Friarage added: “We are delighted to help fund this blackout service at the Friarage. We have donated £35,000 so far for this project which will benefit many local people.”