November 2018:

Report highlights need for urgent action on heart failure, says Alliance

The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) reinforces the need for urgent action to improve heart failure services, according to the Alliance for Heart Failure.

The NCEPOD report, published on November 22, recommends improvements in the process of care for patients with acute heart failure who died while admitted to hospital as an emergency.

Professor Iain Squire, co-chair of the Alliance for Heart Failure, said:

“The NCEPOD report sheds light on some of the pressing issues facing heart failure services. Although there have been some improvements in mortality rates over recent years, at 8.9% for in-patient mortality they are still too high.

“We have already identified the solutions mentioned in the report, including prompt diagnosis with universal uptake and interpretation of NT-proBNP testing, followed by an echocardiogram to ensure the appropriate investigations are performed to inform the patient’s access to the right treatment pathway.

“The report also reinforces the importance of specialist heart failure care. While it found that much of the care provided was good, we know that mortality rates are lower for patients treated on cardiology wards than general medical wards. The NCEPOD report reinforces the important role of heart failure specialist nurses, as part of a full multi-disciplinary heart failure team, to maximise outcomes for patients.

“We strongly agree with NCEPOD’s key recommendations and firmly support the application of national and international guidelines for the clinical management of acute heart failure in all hospitals, reinforced by an annual review of standards.

“This will help address the current unacceptable variation in access to specialist services, and innovative technology. We must continue to strive to ensure that all patients, wherever they are, have equitable access to the high quality treatment they deserve.”

In 2016, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease published a set of ten recommendations for improving heart failure services in its ‘Living with Heart Failure’ report. Following its publication, the Alliance for Heart Failure called upon NHS England, Health Education England, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and NHS Improvement to adopt these proposals and remains determined to bring about further change, in particular in regions that are underperforming against the national average.