CARE of patients with heart failure in the UK is inadequate, claim Durham University researchers.
The findings, published this week, by a team at Durham University and Darlington Memorial Hospital, found the care of heart patients hasn’t changed in the past decade.
Funded by national charity Heart Research UK – the report highlights inadequacies in heart failure care as well as an uncoordinated approach to diagnosis and management of the condition between primary and secondary care clinicians.
The research showed that clinicians are uncertain about how to diagnose different types of heart failure and about who has overall responsibility for its management.
There was also inconsistency in patients’ access to tests and services and a lack of awareness by health professionals of dedicated heart failure clinics. Health professionals expressed concerns about how to care for heart failure patients affected by other diseases and taking other medicines.
More than 750,000 people are living with heart failure in the UK.
Lead investigator, Professor Ahmet Fuat, Honorary Clinical Professor in the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health at Durham University, said: “Overall, staff told us that they were unsure of who had overall responsibility for heart failure from the point of diagnosis through to the end-of-life.
“Even though the government has spent a lot of money on improving heart services, some of the problems we were told about are the same as those found 10 years ago. This is worrying because it means we are still not getting things right for patients with heart failure.”
The researchers recommend the development of clear lines of responsibility, better education of GPs and non-heart specialist hospital doctors, and that the same high quality services and care pathways are available to all patients.