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Our Staff

Dr Allan Harkness - Consultant Cardiologist & Clinical Lead
Dr Duncan Field - Consultant Cardiologist
Dr Kare Tang - Consultant Cardiologist
Dr Mark Scoote - Consultant Cardiologist
Dr Nicholas Robinson - Consultant Cardiologist
Dr Krasen Atanasov - Associate Specialist

Cardiac Rehab Nurse Leads - Judith Payne & Lynda Keating
Heart Failure Nurse Leads - Lynda Keating & Jan Copping
Chest Pain Nurse Lead - Julie Vidler
Atrial Fibrillation Nurse Lead - Cora Hughes
Heart Valve Nurse Leads - Julie Vidler & Neil Faber
Senior Sister Dedham Acute Cardiac Unit - Sarah Sands
Senior Sister Angiography - Julie Harris
Head of Cardio-Respiratory - Sharon Archer

The Department

The Cardio-Respiratory Department provides diagnostic investigations for inpatient and outpatients in Colchester Hospital University. We also perform some tests such as ECG, echo and tapes in satellite clinics in Halstead, Harwich and Clacton. The team perform a range of investigations that provide diagnostic results on the heart and lungs so a diagnosis and treatment pathway can be initiated. Doctors within the hospital such as Consultants, Specialist registrar and their junior doctors request all tests. Doctors in clinics and local GPs also request many of the tests done in the department.

Transoephageal Recording Image

The team work with patients of all ages from premature babies to centenarians! The investigations are carried out in purpose built areas offering cutting edge technology in a private and dignified setting. The team are highly trained to offer quality patient care for a wide range of tests. The investigations enable consultants to review the performance of both the heart and lungs. The tests are non invasive which means they are not performed in a theatre setting; they do however involve patient participation to achieve best results. Examples of this might include blowing into a sterile tube to assess lung function or walking on a treadmill to increase heart rate.

All test results are available from the consultant or GP that requested the test. No results will be given during the test by the technicians.

To cancel or confirm your attendance to an appointment you can call our reception (01206 742612) during office hours. Please note the reception can get very busy but if you leave a message we will return your call.

Lung Function Test

Patients are advised to wear comfortable clothes, not to smoke or take inhalers the day of the test and to avoid eating a heavy meal. The test involves a series of breathing exercises, which involve breathing through a mouthpiece. The patient must wear a nose clip and will be asked to blow as hard as they can into a machine to look at lung size and efficiency. Depending on the number of tests that need to be done, this can take from 15 minutes to one hour.

Exercise Tolerance Test

This test involves walking at a normal pace on a treadmill, usually up a slight slope. During this time the patient has their ECG and blood pressure monitored. The patient will only be asked to walk for as long as they feel able to. Every three minutes the treadmill will speed up slightly and the slope will increase slightly. At some point the technicians will stop the test, if the patient has not already requested that the test be stopped. This is often because the patient's heart rate has reached its target. Very few people get to the stage where they need to jog on the treadmill. This usually only happens with people who are very physically fit and have no underlying heart disease.

The patient is able to stop the test at any time if they feel the need to. They may be asked to stop certain drugs so the results are not masked by their effects. A doctor will instruct individual patients as necessary. Do not stop medication unless instructed to do so, if you are unsure, please contact the Cardio-Respiratory department in advance of the test.

The patient will be attached to a heart monitor throughout the entire test. This is similar to an ECG. Strips of ECG are printed periodically during the test for the consultant to review.

This test usually takes about 5-15 minutes although the preparation and dressing takes up to 45 minutes.


This is an ultrasound scan of the heart that shows the doctor how well the heart is functioning. The patient will be asked to lie on a couch in a darkened room, usually on their left hand side. A small amount of 'gel' is applied to the chest wall and probe sends ultrasound into the chest. As the ultrasound collides with structures such as the lungs and heart an image is created on the screen. It enables the physiologist to look at the internal structure of the heart and take a series of measurements. These measurements are used to create a report that is sent to the consultant. We perform a large number of echocardiograms on the wards of the hospital.

The test is non invasive and does not harm the patient in anyway.

This test usually takes 20 minutes; with preparation patients can expect to be in the scanning area between 30 and 45 minutes.

Pacing Follow Up

Patients who have permanent pacemakers inserted must have regular checks to ensure that the pacemaker is working correctly and the battery lifetime is good. The patient will be asked to either lie on a couch or sit in a chair. A few stickers (electrodes) are stuck to the patient's chest, arms and legs and a radio-frequency header is placed over the pacemaker. This enables the physiologist to use the 'programmer' to communicate with the pacemaker. The physiologist will then take a series of measurements from the pacemaker. During the test the patient may be able to feel their heart rate increase slightly or slow down slightly. This is perfectly normal and is part of the test.

This test usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes.


The patient will be shown into a recording room and asked to undress to the waist. The patient will then be asked to lie down on a couch and stickers (electrodes) will be placed across the patient's chest. If the patient is not able to get onto a couch then this test can be done with the patient sitting in the wheel chair. The patient is connected to an ECG machine via 10 leads. The electrical activity of the heart is recorded from the skin; this test is basically a means to collecting this information. There is no risk to the patient. The activity shows the rate and rhythm of the patient's heart and will assist diagnosis.

The results of the test will be available to the patient once the consultant has seen the tracing that is produced.

This test usually takes about ten minutes.

Twenty Four Hour Tape/Cardiocall

This is where a small recording device is fitted to the patient and will stay attached for twenty-four hours. This will be attached via four stickers (electrodes) that are stuck to the patient's chest. During the period that the tape is recording the patient will not be able to bath or shower. They will be asked to record the times at which they get their symptoms, undertake exercise, go to bed and eat meals. Once the machine is removed the results will be analysed in the department. The report generated from this will be sent to the consultant and they will advise the patient of the results. This equipment usually takes about 15mintues to fit and about 10 minutes to remove.