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Better quality of life for chronic heart failure patients
When a person suffers from chronic heart failure, regular visits and admissions to hospital become a part of their every day life.
However, thanks to the recent development of new and improved services by Local Health Boards across Wales, regular hospital admissions could become a thing of the past.
All Local Health Boards have committed to work closely with GPs to reduce, where possible, the number of unnecessary hospital admissions for patients with chronic heart failure.
The promotion of evidence-based procedures such as timely and accurate diagnosis, medication therapy, and lifestyle advice could make a significant impact on the disease process.
Quality of life
It will also ensure patients with chronic heart failure are able to live a much better quality of life.
By working more closely with our GPs, it is possible to provide improved care and support to people closer to their homes.
We also know that by following clinical guidelines we can improve outcomes for patients with chronic heart failure.
The work to develop Local Enhanced Services for Cardiology is a key part of the 1000 Lives Campaign, which aims to improve patient safety and the quality of care across Welsh healthcare.
We’re delighted to report that more than 80 GP practices across Wales have already signed up to provide these enhanced services. It is an integral part of the Improving General Medical and Surgical Care content area and has been positively embraced by staff.
It is also one of the areas where Wales is in fact leading the world in its patient safety work.
The improvements we are making, by working closely with GPs and other primary care providers, are garnering praise from many other countries including the USA, who devised the concept of the 1000 Lives Campaign.
The Campaign has provided a focus and impetus to improvements in care, and given support and encouragement for improvements that have been initiated. Participation has been increased by show-casing exemplary care and developments within this arena.
As well as providing more support locally, the new service encourages self-management by patients of their condition and advice on diet and exercise.
It also looks at prescribing medicines which best manage chronic heart failure.
These medications have been shown in research trials to improve symptoms and quality of life, reducing unplanned hospital admissions and deterioration of symptoms; this allows patients to live active lives for longer.
By optimising the use of these drugs and regularly reviewing the patient, chronic heart failure sufferers can receive improvement in their symptoms, including more energy, and less likelihood of admission to hospital.
We know that most GP practices are already giving excellent care to patients with chronic heart failure, but the Campaign work is enabling them to do even more.
The level of engagement from LHBs and GPs across Wales has been fantastic and it is really exciting to see primary care making a big impact on a patient safety campaign of this nature.
The next steps now for GP practices is to undertake an audit of patients who have been prescribed an optimal dose of ACE inhibitor and review the effect this has had on their condition.
Other areas of improvement currently being developed, include working with GPs to try and ensure all chronic heart failure patients have received flu and pneumococcal pneumonia injections.
This will again lessen their chance of admission to hospital through illness.
Heart Failure Specialist Nurses are playing a major role in the improvement of services, as they work on the interface between secondary and primary care. These nurses deliver thorough, planned programmes of care to patients in their own homes.
Trusts are also developing improved transfer of care and discharge information documents as part of the Campaign to improve and enhance the patients’ journey through episodes of care.
The progress made in this area during the first year of the Campaign has been excellent and we are looking forward to seeing what the coming months will bring.
Dr Jonathon Gray is a director on the 1000 Lives Campaign.
Last updated: 24/06/2009