August 2017: The Alliance for Heart Failure welcomes the improvements in heart failure services, as reported in the latest National Heart Failure Audit, but calls for much more to be done to address the vast regional variation in patient outcomes.

The audit, published on August 10, 2017, reported that mortality among patients admitted to hospital has fallen significantly to 8.9% compared to 9.6% last year; that the number of patients seen by specialist heart failure nurses remains high at 80 per cent; and that 90 per cent of patients are recorded as having an up to date echocardiogram. The report also recorded an increase in prescriptions for disease modifying medications.

Professor Andrew Clark, co-chair of the Alliance for Heart Failure, said:

“These latest data are cause for cautious celebration. They suggest we are taking positive steps towards our goal of improving diagnosis and treatment for heart failure patients. We applaud the huge efforts made by the staff who enter the data into the National Heart Failure audit, who often go unthanked. Their hard work makes a huge contribution to driving up standards of care throughout the NHS.

“However, our analysis of services and patient outcomes at a regional level tells us that there is still a great deal to be done to ensure that people receive a consistent service wherever they are in the country. For example, patient mortality and rates of implantation of cardiac resynchronization therapy devices vary significantly from region to region.

“While we should welcome the findings of the latest audit, we must continue to strive for even greater improvement across the board.”

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. At the time of 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.