SPECIALIST nurses will be appointed to deal directly with adults with congenital heart problems.

Scotland's only specialist heart care centre is employing two staff to meet growing demand for the service.

The new clinical nurse specialists have been appointed at the Scottish Adult Congenital Cardiac Service, based at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital at Clydebank.

Medical advances mean thousands of babies with heart problems, who would once have died in infancy, survive to adulthood.

However, more than 3000 are thought to need regular monitoring and treatment, with a further 7000 to 8000 requiring more intermittent support.

Last year a group of patients lodged a 700-name petition with the Scottish Parliament calling for better national standards for their care.

There are only three dedicated consultants for adults with congenital heart problems in Scotland and campaigners say the country is lagging behind England in care standards.

The Bravehearts Patients' Association praise the Jubilee unit, but with no 24-hour access to it, they say, patients who fall ill outside opening hours are often cared for by general hospitals.

Following a care review, a second full-time Adult Congenital Heart Disease clinical nurse specialist has now been appointed and a third nurse, initially on secondment for a year, is also joining the team.

Patients can call the nurses for advice if they are concerned about symptoms.

Hamish Walker, Director of the Scottish Adult Congenital Cardiac Service, said: "We can offer an increased level of support and ensure individualised, high quality care is provided."

The Bravehearts campaigners want Scotland brought into line with English standards, where patients get support as they move from paediatric to adult services, more specialist care, and better GP training. They also want psychological and physiotherapy support.

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk