About Us

Congenital Cardiology Psychology and Counselling Service

We are a lifespan service offering support to patients under the care of the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.

How we work
As a small team of Clinical Psychologists and Counsellors, we are dedicated to supporting patients and families living life with a heart condition. We also work with parents who have an antenatal or postnatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease.

Patients are usually referred to our service by their Clinical Nurse Specialist, Cardiologist or the ward. Support can be provided in different ways, from general information guides and ‘top tips’, to meeting with families to talk about their specific difficulties. We provide face-to-face, telephone or video call appointments.

Who we work with
• Expectant parents within Fetal Cardiology clinic
• Children, adult patients and their families living with a heart condition who need support
• Children and their families at Surgical Outpatient clinics and through their surgical journey
• Adult patients and their families at Surgical Outpatient clinics and through their surgical journey
• You may also see us during ward round

What we do
We see lots of different people every day with different needs such as:
• Coping when you find out about your or your child’s heart problem.
• Managing treatments and the challenges they may bring
• Support in preparing for surgery or procedures.
• Managing emotions related to living with a heart condition.

How to get referred:
If you ever feel you are struggling with your or your child’s heart condition, please get in touch with your Clinical Nurse Specialist, Ward Nurse or Cardiologist who can make the appropriate referral.

Sometimes when we meet patients and families, it becomes clear that they are managing their heart condition well, but there are other challenges they need support with. When this happens, we will not be able to provide ongoing support, but we can ask other teams (such as CAMHS, IAPT, Schools and Community Support) to help with these difficulties.

What to expect in an appointment:
You will attend an initial assessment via either a telephone call, a virtual video appointment or face to face. We will ask you about your life including your family, school, college, or work and interests. We we will also talk about current difficulties and things you wish to change.

The aim of an assessment is to gain a shared understanding of your difficulties. Sometimes this means coming back for further appointments to support you during this time and these decisions are made together with you / your family.

Everything you talk about in a session with a member of the team will be kept private unless we feel that you or your family members are at risk. As we work within a medical team it may be useful to share information with the team, but we will always ask you about it before sharing with another professional.

Click on the links below for useful resources:

Self-Care: Information for Patients and Families

Meet the Team

- Dr Sara Matley, Lead Consultant Clinical Psychologist

- Dr Kat Bilbrough, Principal Clinical Psychologist

- Dr Poppy Siddell, Clinical Psychologist

-Dr Marcella Kapsokavadi, Clinical Psychologist

- Mrs Jayne Slack, Senior Counsellor

- Mrs Sandie Allison, Counsellor

- Abigail Robson, Assistant Psychologist

Sometimes we also have Psychologists in Clinical Training working with us for short periods of time. Trainees on placement are often in their final year of training and are supervised by a Senior Psychologist in our team.

We are not an emergency response / crisis service.

If you require urgent professional support or advice, please request an urgent GP appointment, contact NHS Direct by dialling 111 or attend your local Accident & Emergency Department.

You can also dial 999 for urgent help.