Alliance for Heart Failure update – Autumn 2021:
Welcome to the third Alliance for Heart Failure update of 2021. Following the successful launch of the Heart Failure: A Call to Action report in the first quarter of the year, the Alliance has maintained the momentum towards its goal of ensuring heart failure patients receive the care they deserve. Significant progress has since been made on our national campaign, including parliamentary engagement based on the report’s recommendations.
- National campaign
Following the Westminster Hall debate ‘Patients with Heart Failure’ in March this year, the Alliance made contact with Jo Churchill MP’s office with a view to arranging a meeting to discuss the Alliance’s key recommendations from the Call to Action report. In September’s reshuffle, Jo Churchill was replaced by former nurse Maria Caulfield MP as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care. The Alliance has approached Ms Caulfield to introduce the Alliance and some of the key issues around heart failure, including the impact of Covid, variation in access to specialist care and uptake of NT-proBNP testing.
In May, five questions tabled by Henry Smith MP on behalf of the Alliance for Heart Failure were answered by Jo Churchill.
The questions were:
- When NHS England and Improvement intends to publish the Getting It Right First Time report into cardiology services. View the answer here
- The steps that are being taken to increase access to and uptake of cardiac rehabilitation for heart failure patients. View the answer here
- The steps that are being taken to reduce the (a) variation between hospitals in the provision of specialist care for heart failure patients and (b) rate at which people with heart failure are readmitted to hospital after their first admission. View the answer here
- What measures are being taken to ensure that Primary Care Networks improve heart failure prevention. View the answer here
- What steps are being taken to ensure that heart failure data collection includes (a) primary and community care services, (b) the underlying cause of heart failure, (c) whether genetic testing has been considered and (d) the rehabilitative and long term support that has been put in place. View the answer here
A further question was tabled in September by Baroness Masham of Ilton and answered by Lord Kamall, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care).
- To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps (1) NHS England, and (2) NHS Improvement, are taking to implement the commissioning policies for cardiovascular procedures to ensure all vulnerable patients have access to them. View the answer here
Dr Nick Linker
The Alliance has secured a briefing meeting with Dr Nick Linker, National Clinical Director for Heart Disease and Diane Saunders from NHS England / Improvement in November. The meeting will be an opportunity to share the key recommendations from the Call to Action report and to hear more about the Department’s plans for improving heart failure services.
REACH-HF roll out
This autumn, NHS England awarded funding to an Exeter University-led team to roll out REACH-HF, the at-home rehabilitation program that includes exercise, psychological support, and education for heart failure patients. In response to the funding, Dr Linker commented that it will help fulfil NHS Long Term Plan goals.
Uptake and equitable access to cardiac rehabilitation was a key priority in our Call to Action report, and one of the main topics during our online Westminster roundtable attended by Dr Linker last year.
Getting it Right First Time
Professor Simon Ray, Joint National Lead for Cardiology GIRFT has also agreed to meet the Alliance in November. The Alliance previously met with Professor Ray and Dr Sarah Clarke in 2018. The meeting will be an opportunity to understand the next steps for GIRFT, identify possible areas for collaboration and gain insight into the development of Clinical Cardiac Networks across the country following the publication of the GIRFT Cardiology report.
- Regional campaign
ICS leads and Clinical Networks.
The Alliance for Heart Failure has now received seventeen responses from its outreach to the regional Systems across the country.
We have also identified the new interim Chairs of each Integrated Care System (ICS) and are starting to build a picture of the Clinical Cardiac Networks. This data is being used to resume contact with the Systems and to ensure heart failure is adequately addressed in its regional plans.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
In June, the Alliance for Heart Failure met Sarada Chunduri-Shoesmith, Associate Director – System Support for Implementation, and Victoria Carter, Senior Technical Analyst – Accreditation and Quality Assurance, from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The meeting was an opportunity to brief NICE on the work of the Alliance – including the recommendations in the Call to Action report – and to discuss ways in which we can work together to support the adoption of NICE heart failure guidelines.
It was agreed that where there are regional areas of weak uptake, NICE can assist in identifying the challenge and what can drive uptake, as well as help share learnings on a wider national scale and support communications activity.
- Heart Failure Community
The Untold Heartbreak
In early August, the Alliance highlighted the launch of the new British Heart Foundation report, The Untold Heartbreak.
The report predicts that the number of people anxiously waiting for heart care and diagnosis could more than double within two years in England, peaking at around 550,385 in January 2024 if the NHS doesn’t get the investment it needs. If no decisive action is taken, it could take up to five years for cardiac waiting lists in England to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
European Heart Failure Awareness Week
The Alliance participated in the European Heart Failure Awareness Week, which took place in May. Activity included raising awareness of heart failure statistics and the Call to Action report recommendations, including improvement in access to specialist care, cardiac rehabilitation, and NT-proBNP.
World Heart Day
The Alliance also participated in the World Heart Day on the 29th September. A series of social media cards were created and published for the event. The cards highlighted the impact of Covid as well as our key recommendations, including access to NT-proBNP, patient education, and inter-hospital variation in specialist care.
Despite the continued challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Alliance for Heart Failure has succeeded in reaching landmark goals this year.
We plan to maintain awareness through parliamentary and stakeholder engagement to drive policy change and ensure heart failure gets the attention it deserves.
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