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Manuel Reiberg

Managing Director, Daiichi Sankyo UK

While, for now, we’re correctly urged to stay apart, ensuring the long-term sustainability of our NHS requires a collective, collaborative approach.


As we mark Heart Rhythm Week, delivering the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) has never been more important.

While the world adjusts to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, a question that we have all been reflecting on is: ‘What comes next?’

At a time of unprecedented pressure on capacity, the NHS has proven its resilience to provide care for those in need.

As we look to the future, one thing that has become clear is that health is everybody’s business. Partnership and collaborative solutions are essential to delivering effective preventative care.

At the heart of the situation

The effects of the current crisis have been particularly acute for people with cardiovascular health conditions. Data from hospitals across England show that the number of people admitted to hospital with a suspected heart attack has halved since the beginning of March.[i]

The experience of early-affected countries, such as Italy, suggests that the majority of coronavirus victims had underlying illnesses – the most common were cardiovascular conditions.[ii]

Cardiovascular events continue to be one of the most significant causes of poor health, with consequent strain on NHS resources.[iii]

One such cardiovascular event is stroke, which remains the fourth biggest killer in the UK[iv]. One of the major risk factors, atrial fibrillation (AF) – a condition where the heart beats irregularly and rapidly[v] – continues to be under-detected and, subsequently, under-treated.

Around 1.2m people are diagnosed with AF annually in the UK but, worryingly, a further 500,000 people are estimated to be living with the condition unknowingly.[vi]

The NHS LTP’s ambition to prevent 150,000 cardiovascular disease events this decade[vii] is bold but achievable if all parties collaborate to support the health service in the delivery of this ambition.

An essential action is to create programmes aligned with the Academic Health Science Network’s (AHSN) ‘Detect, Protect, Perfect’ pathway.[viii]

By improving diagnosis of the condition, we can ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment and optimise management for an individual’s heart arrhythmia, both now and in the future.

Re-setting the standard of industry partnerships

As Managing Director of Daiichi Sankyo UK, a pharmaceutical company that is a committed partner to the NHS, it is our organisational mission to support the NHS to achieve its longer-term cardiovascular health outcome objectives.

After all, we are all potential patients, and it is essential that we create a sustainable future for our health service, where the prevention of disease is at the heart of it.

The LTP suggests that digital technology, as well as closer collaboration with NHS staff, employers and the voluntary and public sectors will drive improvement in patient awareness, and therefore, the management of an individual’s ‘ABC’ (AF, blood pressure and cholesterol).

We will be playing our part in supporting this improvement by bringing together representatives from across the healthcare system to collaboratively embed these solutions into our programmes.

Moving care closer to home

COVID-19 has demonstrated that the secondary care system needs better support, even as the LTP enables care to move to a localised, community-setting through Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICS).

Our local partnership with the University College London Partners AHSN to improve the primary care initiation of anticoagulation in London[ix] is one such example of the potential of how innovative care models can support secondary care services and improve the care of AF patients.

Through the initiative, it is hoped that between 350 to 450 lives will be saved over a five-year period.[x]

Our health service is an incredible force that delivers improved health outcomes for the population. Partnerships now, more than ever, are the vehicle to drive that force.

The future is calling for a new approach to partnerships, to support our healthcare system in its objectives and improve outcomes for patients with AF.

DSC/20/0069 May 2020
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[i] Julia Bakker. British Heart Foundation. Lives at risk due to 50% drop in heart attack A&E attendances. 9 April 2020. Accessed at https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2020/april/drop-in-heart-attack-patients-amidst-coronavirus-outbreak [ii] Angela Giuffrida. The Guardian. ‘This is like a war’: view from Italy’s coronavirus frontline. 17 March 2020. Accessed at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/17/this-is-like-a-war-view-from-italys-coronavirus-frontline [iii] Public Health England. Ambitions set to address major causes of cardiovascular disease. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ambitions-set-to-address-major-causes-of-cardiovascular-disease Accessed April 2020 [iv] Stroke Association. State of the nation. Stroke statistics. February 2018. Accessed at https://www.stroke.org.uk/sites/default/files/state_of_the_nation_2018.pdf. Accessed April 2020 [v] Stroke Association. State of the nation. Stroke statistics. February 2018. Accessed at https://www.stroke.org.uk/sites/default/files/state_of_the_nation_2018.pdf. Accessed April 2020 [vi] Stroke Association. State of the nation. Stroke statistics. February 2018. Accessed at https://www.stroke.org.uk/sites/default/files/state_of_the_nation_2018.pdf. Accessed April 2020 [vii] NHS England. The NHS Long Term Plan. Accessed at https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/publication/nhs-long-term-plan/. Accessed April 2020 [viii] Academic Health Science Network. Atrial fibrillation. Detect, protect and perfect. Accessed at https://www.ahsnnetwork.com/about-academic-health-science-networks/national-programmes-priorities/atrial-fibrillation. Accessed April 2020 [ix] UCL Partners. Increasing detection and treatment for atrial fibrillation. Available at https://uclpartners.com/work/increasing-detection-and-treatment-for-atrial-fibrillation/ Accessed April 2020 [x] Daiichi Sankyo UK. Joint working. Accessed at:https://www.daiichi-sankyo.co.uk/fileadmin/daiichi-sankyo-contents/DS_UK/Downloads/About_Us/DSC_19_0025_Joint_working_Executive_Summary_-_Oct_2019.pdf

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