Access to heart failure services should be fair and equitable
Cardiology Every patient should have access to the best heart failure services and specialists says, one MP. The only way to ensure this happens is to invest more money in this vital area of healthcare.
Heart failure services must not be closed down
More investment is needed in heart failure services if they are to be fit for purpose in 21st century Britain, says Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall. Because we should never forget that while heart failure and cardiac diseases cost the NHS billions every year, there is a human cost, too, on individuals, families, carers and friends. “If heart failure services and resources are not available, then people who need them are going to suffer,” says Sharma.
"We need more training for local GPs, more nurses, and more staff who can assist people when they need it."
Sharma says the public are concerned that, in some areas, heart failure services are either being reduced or closed down completely and looks at his own constituency as a barometer of what is happening across the country. “Generally, Ealing has been a good hospital,” he says. “But in the last two years it's been deteriorating and people are not getting the services they expect. And, unfortunately, I don't think it is different from any other hospital.”
Equitable access to services and specialists
Sharma says that thanks to the meetings that parliamentarians and policy-makers have with organisations working in the cardiac field, there's a high level of awareness — across the House — about the importance of heart failure services.
Sadly, however, this understanding is not yet filtering through into the health system. For instance, Sharma says that everyone should have access to heart specialists, and also BNP testing — a blood test which could speed up diagnosis and save the NHS money. Yet not everyone does. It's a postcode lottery, in other words.
"We need more training for local GPs, more nurses, and more staff"
“I personally believe there should be more investment in heart failure and cardiac services,” he says. “Ultimately, we need more training for local GPs, more nurses, and more staff who can assist people when they need it. We also need to better inform the public so that they are aware of symptoms, and encourage them to take part in activities which reduce their risk of heart failure.”