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NHS launches £9 million scheme to prevent heart conditions

A NEW £9 million programme has been launched to spot heart conditions earlier with an aim to save at least 200 lives and offer protection to thousands more.

The scheme, which will run until next March, will see almost 20,000 people at higher risk of experiencing a stroke receive targeted checks and treatment as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s renewed focus on preventing and tackling killer conditions.

Patients will be identified by specialist nurses and clinical pharmacists across the country who are trained to treat a heart condition – called atrial fibrillation - which increases the chance of having a stroke.

Specialist clinicians will identify patients in each surgery who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation but are not receiving treatment. Anyone identified as being at risk will be offered a personalised treatment plan developed with their GP.

The programme will run across 23 areas of the country with the highest rates of the condition receiving funding for specialist clinical pharmacists to help identify people who could benefit from medication.

NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Tackling heart disease and stroke is a top priority in the NHS Long Term Plan, which will save thousands of lives by better diagnosis and treatment for people with killer conditions.

“By targeting help at those people most at risk of illness, and training up specialist clinicians, the NHS in England will help families across the country avoid the pain and loss associated with stroke.

"Not only is stroke one of the biggest killers in our country, but it leads to life-changing and often devastating long-term harm for many others, so by spotting the risks early, the NHS will not only prevent serious harm to the people affected, but avoid the need for aftercare which puts additional pressure on the health service.”

Treating people who have atrial fibrillation with anticoagulation drugs, reduces the risk of stroke by two-thirds yet only half of those with the condition who go on to suffer a stroke had been prescribed them.

People who are poorer, from black or ethnic minority backgrounds or other disadvantaged groups are more likely to be among those who go undiagnosed and untreated.

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association added: “This is a great step in the right direction. We’re pleased that pharmacists now have the tools to spot people most likely to have a stroke, so that they can be supported and spared the devastation stroke brings. Most people don’t know if they have atrial fibrillation and we’d like to see more speaking with a pharmacist or visiting their GPs to get checked.”

The Clinical Commissioning Groups to receive funding are those parts of the country with high levels of deprivation and/or high levels of untreated AF, which can cause stroke.

They are:
1. NHS Barnet CCG
2. NHS Bradford City CCG
3. NHS Brent CCG
4. NHS Camden CCG
5. NHS Chorley And South Ribble CCG
6. NHS Croydon CCG
7. NHS Enfield CCG
8. NHS Great Yarmouth And Waveney CCG
9. NHS Greenwich CCG
10. NHS Haringey CCG
11. NHS Harrow CCG
12. NHS Isle of Wight CCG
13. NHS Islington CCG
14. NHS Kingston CCG
15. NHS Leeds CCG
16. NHS Morecambe Bay CCG
17. NHS North Cumbria CCG
18. NHS North Tyneside CCG
19. NHS Northumberland CCG
20. NHS Portsmouth CCG
21. NHS South Kent Coast CCG
22. NHS Thanet CCG
23. NHS West Lancashire CCG

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