Working with the with the APPG on Heart Disease, and other organisations and individuals with expertise in heart failure, we conducted a parliamentary inquiry into how to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of heart failure patients in England.
Following written and oral evidence from patients, health care professionals, and commissioners, the APPG produced a report (PDF) with ten practical recommendations to improve care for heart failure patients.
One of the recommendations is that a simple blood test, costing under £28, should be made available to all hospitals and GPs in England. Experts say this would speed up diagnosis and save the health service millions of pounds each year.
Saving money and improving lives
The test (NTproBNP) was developed in the late 1990s by our researchers at the University of Dundee. It is used to detect levels of natriuretic peptide in a patient’s blood and either rules out or point towards a diagnosis of heart failure.
An economic analysis by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) showed that nationally, the net saving resulting from the use of the test in primary care was approximately £3.8 million.
However, despite current recommendations by NICE, the inquiry exposed that access to testing is variable across the country and in some areas, is not commissioned at all.
Living with heart failure can be debilitating, distressing and when untreated it has worse survival rates than some cancers. Over 400,000 people in England have been diagnosed with heart failure and there are likely to be many more undiagnosed cases. Prevalence is likely to increase with the combined effect of an ageing population and improved survival from heart attacks.
Heart failure is also costly to the NHS, accounting for 2 per cent of the total budget, and one million bed days a year. It is the cause of 63,000 emergency admissions in 2014/15, and is the most common cause of admission for people over 65 years of age.
Some heart failure patients receive excellent treatment and care and there is much best practice and service innovation. However, many people are not receiving care that meets these guidelines. This has consequences for patients, carers, the NHS and beyond.
The inquiry and the report provide a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with patients, health care professionals, the Government and NHS to improve outcomes and experience for people with heart failure, and their families and carers.
Read the full report (PDF)