Heart failure

Specialist heart failure nurses

There is some evidence that follow-up care from nurses specialising in heart failure benefits people coping with heart failure. As yet there is no requirement for local hospitals or GPs to provide specialist nurses in heart failure and most of those we spoke to had no access to such services. Over time specialist nurses have become far more widely deployed. 

We asked Helen Jackson, Advanced Nurse Practitioner in heart failure, to help explain the role of specialist heart failure nurses and the specific tasks of ICD nurses who care for heart failure patients fitted with medical devices. 

Many said that specialist nurses had given them good advice about their medication, and one man thought that his nurse was in the best position to treat him as a whole person and could draw on the experiences of other patients. Specialist nurses were able to give advice about a range of problems connected to heart failure, for instance one man had been given advice about whether he could still go diving, and another had been sent on a course to help him stop smoking. Nurses were also described as open and frank in discussions about sensitive subjects such as having sex and issues about death and dying.
Heart failure nurses may also provide support and advice via Helplines and email but such services vary across the UK. ICD nurses provide specific advice to people fitted with a medical device.
Knowing they could contact specialist nurses outside normal working hours if they needed to was reassuring, for instance one man had phoned his nurse at the weekend because he felt unwell and she responded straight away. However, not everyone thought that their specialist nurse was available out of normal working hours or said that they tried not to contact their nurses out of hours, though some would like to see more of their nurse and one thought there should be a 24-hour help line for people with heart failure (see 'Access to health professionals between appointments').

Several people said that the specialist nurse service should be extended to cover the whole country and that more money should be allocated for heart failure nurses.


Last reviewed April 2016.
Last updated April 2016.


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