If you have an urgent problem requiring immediate cardiological assessment you are referred acutely to the Cardiology Department where you will initially be seen by the Registrar (trainee specialist) who will decide whether you need to be admitted to hospital. Investigations will be performed as required, and the more senior members of the team involved where necessary.
If the problem is not urgent, the GP will write a letter to the Cardiology Department requesting an appointment in the outpatient clinic. Each month the Department receives more referrals than can be seen in clinic. One of the consultant cardiologists working in the Department reviews these letters to determine who should be seen first, based on the information provided by the GP. Very urgent cases are usually seen within a couple of weeks, but other cases may have to wait a longer time. Sometimes the cardiologist will organise an investigation rather than arranging a clinic appointment. The result of the investigation will be sent to your GP and a specialist appointment will be arranged if needed.
When you come to the Cardiology Outpatient Department you will be seen by a member of the cardiology team who will ask questions about your illness and examine you to try to determine or confirm the diagnosis. This process may also require a number of tests (e.g. blood tests, x-rays, scans etc). Sometimes this can all be done during one clinic visit, but for some conditions this will take several follow-up appointments. Occasionally some tests are arranged even before you are seen at the hospital to try to speed up the process.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the medical staff will discuss treatment with you. They will write to your GP with advice and may or may not arrange for you to attend a follow-up clinic.