Saving men’s lives across the North East

Posted on Mon, 20/11/2017 by Jeanne Boynton, Nurse Practitioner, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme

AAA screening

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is a dangerous swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta – the main blood vessel that runs from the heart, down through the abdomen to the rest of the body. It usually causes no symptoms, but if it bursts it’s extremely dangerous and usually fatal.

However, if a large aneurysm is detected before it is ruptures people can be treated.

This swelling is far more common in men aged over 65 than it is in women and younger men, so men are invited for free AAA screening in the year they turn 65. The North East of England AAA screening programme is run from the QE Hospital.

Jeanne Boynton, Nurse Practitioner, North East of England Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme, QE Gateshead

A typical day for me will be either out at clinic or based in the office here at the QE. Both days will start the same, with a quick catch-up with our screening technicians and the management team.

On a clinic day I’ll travel with our screening technicians to one of our 30 clinics located as far north as Berwick, Northumberland and as far south as Whitby, North Yorkshire. The locations we visit are based in hospitals, walk in centres, primary care centres and prisons.


“Providing reassurance and addressing any concerns”


I primarily see patients who are under 12 month or three month surveillance as they are known to have an AAA after attending for an initial scan. I’ll perform ultrasound scanning of the abdominal aorta and review AAA growth, compliance with medication, blood pressure control, smoking cessation, and reduction in BMI if required.

This is also an ideal opportunity to provide reassurance and address any concerns or questions the patient or family may have. This is so important particularly when AAA growth indicates a referral to the vascular service and surgery is probably imminent.  I am also available for any clinical queries and support our technicians working at other clinics.

We all return to base at the end of the day to catch-up with tasks such as writing to the patients’ GPs and answering telephone enquiries.  When based in the office, I’ll carry out telephone nurse assessments with patients and follow this up with a detailed report to their GP with any specific recommendations. I’ll also make contact with the vascular services around the North East tracking any patients we have referred and catch-up with specialist services such as Learning Disability Nurses to ensure all men, whatever their disability, can access screening.


“It’s a privilege to meet some great people from many different walks of life”


Men that attend for their first scan are symptomless.  If an AAA is discovered I know that the whole team will strive to support the patient and his family with a safe, quality service that demonstrates care and compassion. I see this in action every day.

Being involved in AAA screening is fast paced but very rewarding. When out at clinic it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to meet some great men from many different walks of life and work as part of a team which is genuinely dedicated to delivering a patient focused, consistent high quality, efficient and safe service.  

Driving over the North Yorkshire moors on a beautiful sunny morning and remembering this is part of my working day isn’t bad either.

Find out more about The North East of England AAA screening programme here.

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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