Clinical Psychology Service

The Clinical Psychology Service within the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre (EMCHC) works across the lifespan with individuals and their families who may be experiencing psychological difficulties related to their physical health. Within the service there are four members of staff across the paediatric and adult teams.

About the Psychology Service:

The Paediatric Psychology Service works with children and young people and is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) within Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. The Adult Psychology Service, part of Medical Psychology within Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, works with young adults from the age of 16 and above. The Psychology Service supports patients and their families seen within the EMCHC who may be experiencing psychological difficulties related to their physical health.

Clinical Psychologists can help patients and their families to understand and cope with the difficulties they might be experiencing as a result of their  medical condition or elements of their treatment such as surgery.

For example:

o    Understanding and coping with a cardiac condition or diagnosis

o    Adjusting to taking and receiving medication that is related to a cardiac condition

o    Managing the impact of a cardiac condition on other areas of their life, for example school, work and friends

o    Dealing with thoughts, feelings and behaviour related to living with a cardiac condition, e.g. anger, anxiety or sadness

o    Preparing for surgery or other medical procedures

Young people over 16 years old can consent to their own treatment and may be seen alone should they wish. Please note there may be a waiting list for our service.

What is a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical Psychologists are doctors who believe that talking and learning new ways of thinking about situations can help people feel better. We talk with patients and their families about what might be worrying them and the difficulties they are experiencing, and might give them some ideas about how to cope in a different way. We do not do physical examinations or prescribe medication.

Who are the Clinical Psychologists?

The Clinical Psychologists based at the EMCHC are:

o    Dr Vicky Elliott (Service lead - Paediatric Congenital Heart)

o    Dr Felicity Larson (Paediatric Congenital Heart – Network Psychologist)

o    Dr Oonagh O’Hare (Paediatric Congenital Heart)

o    Dr Shruti Niraj (Service lead - Adult Congenital Heart)

o    We also regularly have trainee psychologists working with us on placement across both child and adult services

What is the referral process?

Referrals are accepted from Consultant Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgeons, Consultant Cardiologists, Paediatrician with Expertise in Cardiology (PECs) in the network, ward staff, and/or Cardiac Liaison Nurses. A referral form and further information is available on request. Referrals should relate to issues primarily relating to a child or adult’s congenital heart disease or treatment, rather than other difficulties.

What will happen at my first appointment?

We are currently working in different ways due to COVID-19. We are using a mixture of telephone, video, and face to face appointments depending on patient needs. If you come for a face to face appointment, the psychologist will meet you and show you to a room in the Outpatients Department at EMCHC (Glenfield Hospital). For appointments involving children, generally we will talk to the family together at first although we may ask to speak to young people and parents separately. Please note that at the moment, only one parent should attend appointments, so we might need to arrange to speak to parents separately on the phone.

The first appointment may last up to an hour and a half and will involve completing questionnaires as well as talking about the issues you are concerned about. There will be no physical examination and we do not prescribe medication, although with your permission we may refer you to someone who does if this is required.

There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions too. We will then decide together what to do next. This could involve:

o    Arranging another appointment to work with either the whole family, just the young person or just the young person’s parents/carers

o    Arranging for a patient to be seen by a service that is more suitable for their needs

o    Liaison with other professionals that are involved in the person’s care (i.e. Consultant Cardiologists, Cardiac Liaison Nurses, GPs, School/College, Social Care, Speech and Language Therapists, Dieticians)

o    Making recommendations for how the person and/or their family could manage the problem and deciding together with a family that they do not need to see us again.

After an appointment we will write a letter about your visit to the person who referred you to us. A copy will go to your GP and you can also ask us to send a copy to you. We also sometimes like to contact school and other people who know the child but will discuss this with the family first.