A senior lecturer from the University of Brighton is conducting research that could save the NHS millions of pounds by treating heart patients in their own homes.
One of 12 pilot schemes around the country, the project is financed by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) which is evaluating the efficacy and safety of administering medication intravenously to patients with heart failure in their homes rather than in hospital.
Ms Watson, a nurse and senior lecturer with the university's School of Nursing and Midwifery, is the project manager and is employed by both East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and the University of Brighton. Dr Hugh McIntyre, consultant physician at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, devised the national protocol and is the clinical lead.
Ms Watson said patients with heart failure often "fill up" with fluid and can spend 10 to 14 days in hospital while they are given diuretic medication intravenously to encourage the body to drain the fluid naturally.
There are 700,000 people in the UK with heart failure and patients account for five per cent of all emergency medical admissions and two per cent of the NHS budget is spent on them.
Earlier BHF trials involving heart failure nurses treating patients in their homes reduced hospital admissions by 43 per cent and saved the NHS more than £8m over the12-month sample period.
Ms Watson said the benefits were not just financial: "Providing diuretic medication intravenously in patients' own homes is so much nicer and less stressful than doing so in hospital. It improves patients' quality of life by reducing some of the distressing symptoms of heart failure."
She said the project in Hastings and Rother will run for two years: "This is a cutting-edge scheme which follows the national agenda for hospital avoidance and the transfer of care into the community."