Alliance for Heart Failure update – Spring 2021:
Welcome to the second Alliance for Heart Failure update of 2021. The first quarter of the year has seen significant progress on our annual plan, notably the publication of the Heart Failure: A Call to Action report. The Alliance is maintaining this momentum on a national, regional, and heart failure community level, seeking opportunities to highlight the report’s recommendations to drive policy change and improve care for heart failure patients.
1. National campaign
Heart Failure: A Call to Action report
Following last year’s successful online Westminster roundtable, the Alliance launched the Heart Failure: A Call to Action report in February.
This major report looks at the progress that has been made on the 2016 ‘Focus on Heart Failure’ recommendations, evaluates what further action needs to be taken, and proposes ten new recommendations for improvements.
Launched during #NationalHeartMonth, the report received a positive response and messages of support from a number of stakeholders.
The report also generated positive media interest, with coverage in the following outlets:
- Nursing Times
- The British Journal of Cardiology
- Hospital Healthcare Europe
- Cardiovascular News
- Cardiac Rhythm News
- The King’s Fund
A social media campaign also raised awareness of the report, with recommendations serialised over the course of two weeks. This generated significant engagement from many stakeholders and influencers, including the King’s Fund, the British Journal of Cardiology, British Society for Heart Failure Board members, European Heart Failure Policy Network, and many others. From the 18th – 26th February, the social media outreach had a potential reach of over 42,000 from 35 individual contributors.
The media coverage and social media outreach contributed to a significant increase in traffic to the Alliance website during the launch week.
Westminster Hall Debate
A Westminster Hall debate ‘Patients with Heart Failure’ took place on the 11th March. Participants included Rt Hon David Mundell MP, Jim Shannon MP, Steve McCabe MP, Patricia Gibson MP, Justin Madders MP, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, Jo Churchill MP.
The debate reiterated several of the recommendations within our Call to Action report, including scaling up and improving the promotion and awareness of cardiac rehabilitation, ensuring that NT-proBNP testing is available to all general practices, and improving rapid diagnosis with echocardiograms.
The Alliance supported the debate on social media, with engagement from key opinion leaders including Justin Madders MP, the British Society for Heart Failure, and the Heart Failure Policy Network.
Following the discussion, the Alliance has written to Jo Churchill, welcoming her response, highlighting the key recommendations, and offering support for the NHS recovery.
A series of Parliamentary Questions have been proposed to MPs who took part in the Westminster Hall debate or have expressed interest in the issue of heart failure. These seek responses from the Government on key issues in heart failure care, including interhospital variation, readmissions, and access to cardiac rehabilitation.
Cardiovascular Health Campaign
In March, the Alliance for Heart Failure participated in the Cardiovascular Health 2021 campaign, a joint initiative between MediaPlanet and The Guardian.
The campaign aimed to raise awareness around cardiovascular conditions, innovations in treatment, and the importance of diagnosis and prevention of all conditions, with a particular focus on heart failure.
As part of the campaign, the Alliance submitted an article: Heart failure was a priority before COVID-19, but it’s urgent now. It argues that although initiatives are underway to improve heart failure care, more could be done, including:
- Better access to early diagnosis and improved GP education
- Ironing out inter-hospital and ward variation in access to specialist care
- Improving uptake of cardiac rehabilitation
The campaign, which included contributions from prominent individuals including Prof. Simon Ray, Trudie Lobban MBE, and Professor Martin Cowie, is expected to have had a total reach of over two million.
2. Regional campaign
As part of its regional outreach, the Alliance for Heart Failure distributed its Call to Action report among all NHS regional Systems.
The report received a positive response from several contacts, including:
- Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which also provided information on its work in heart failure, including the Smart Hearts project and Heart Failure Care Plan.
- Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICS, stating that it is working closely with its CCG colleagues to improve the care of its heart failure patients it looks forward to going through the report.
- North East London Health and Care Partnership
The Alliance continues to monitor the publication of 5 Year Plans by regional NHS Systems and respond to those which fail to adequately address heart failure.
3. Heart Failure Community
The Call to Action report was shared with key stakeholders to distribute among their own networks and contacts.
British Heart Foundation
The Alliance for Heart Failure met with the British Heart Foundation policy team in April. Potential areas for collaboration to raise awareness of heart failure, the impact of Covid-19 on the condition, and improvements on care pathways were identified during the meeting.
European Heart Failure Awareness Week
The Alliance for Heart Failure will be participating in the European Heart Failure Awareness Week, taking place from the 10-16th May. Activity will focus on the recommendations of the Heart Failure: A Call to Action report.
Without Skipping a Beat report
The Alliance for Heart Failure also supported the launch of the Institute for Public Policy
Research’s latest Without Skipping a Beat report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cardiovascular care.
The Heart Failure: Call to Action report was a flagship component of the Alliance’s 2021 annual strategy. Thank you to everyone who helped to inform its recommendations and support its publication.
We now plan to maintain awareness through a programme of parliamentary and stakeholder engagement to help amplify the message and the need to address the impact of Covid-19 on heart failure patients.
Thank you for your ongoing interest and support for the Alliance. If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact the Alliance Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louise Clayton, Richard Corder – Co-chairs, Alliance for Heart Failure