Alliance for Heart Failure update – Spring 2020:
Welcome to the second Alliance for Heart Failure update of 2020. Following the COVID-19 outbreak and the immediate challenges facing the NHS, we have adapted our annual strategy on a national, regional and heart failure community level to ensure the Alliance continues to deliver its objectives, while taking into account the current circumstances.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the British Society for Heart Failure published a position statement and video providing advice and guidance to frontline staff on the retention of essential heart failure services. The Alliance has been supporting this effort by enlisting the support of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and contacting all Integrated Care Systems (ICS) / Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP) across the country.
We have so far received universally positive feedback that the guidance is clear and helpful and will be brought to the attention of relevant teams, senior clinicians and executives, as well as considered as part of the local response.
Health and Social Care Committee Inquiry
The Health and Social Care Committee has launched an Inquiry into the planning and delivery of essential NHS and care services during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. The Secretariat is currently collating members’ responses to form a combined Alliance for Heart Failure submission. This is an opportunity to ensure heart failure is a part of the Committee’s agenda both in the context of COVID-19 and in the future.
- National Programme
The health and safety of patients, healthcare professionals, Alliance members, and other individuals is our primary concern. For this reason, the Westminster Heart Failure Roundtable which was due to take place on the 18th March 2020 was postponed. We aim to reschedule this in the fourth quarter of the year, assuming social distancing measures have been relaxed at that point, with the discussion including the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Much of the groundwork for this event has been undertaken already, which will facilitate future planning. We have generated positive engagement from speakers and guests from our outreach in the first quarter. Steve McCabe MP, who was due to host the roundtable, is also keen to reschedule the event as soon as possible.
The Alliance will now be undertaking a review of progress against the 10 recommendations of the ‘Focus on Heart Failure’ report. Replacing the roundtable report in the interim, this review will be published in the form of a short ‘traffic light’ report, which can be used to engage with national stakeholders on the key issues in need of action.
Meanwhile, we are making positive progress with the RCGP, which has responded positively to our proposals for a joint awareness and education initiative. A more detailed overview of the campaign’s objectives and messages was developed, and an endorsement application has been submitted to the RCGP. The potential impact of COVID-19 makes this initiative an even greater priority.
- Regional Plans
We have continued to monitor the publication of regional NHS 5 Year Plans by each ICS / STP to ensure that heart failure services are addressed. A letter and briefing on the variation in the access to heart failure services across the UK has been developed and deployed to those who fail to mention, or mention only very briefly, heart failure within its consultation.
The Alliance has so far received six responses, with particularly positive feedback from the following:
- Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership
- Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System
- North East London Sustainability and Transformation Partnership
- Sussex Health and Care Partnership.
Among the positive responses there is an indication of the Alliance’s input being used to influence regional heart failure strategy and plans. This includes requests for discussions with the Alliance, as well as the use of our briefing material to inform plans.
It is also encouraging to see an increasing number of regional Systems referring to heart failure in their Long Term Plans, after previously failing to do so in their 2016 proposals.
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens recommended that all local Long Term Plans not already published should be held back until Autumn 2020. The Alliance will, however, continue to monitor Systems’ sites and respond appropriately. We will also continue to engage with those organisations that have already responded.
- The Heart Failure Community
Meanwhile, we continue to build awareness and enlist support from heart failure professionals. We will maintain awareness via the Alliance website as well as through regular social media updates focusing on content relating to COVID-19 and heart failure. The Focus on Heart Failure review will also be deployed to engage with the community.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing everything we can to improve awareness of heart failure to ensure that vulnerable patients receive the treatment they need, while still focusing on our long term goals and continuing to drive policy change.
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