This month we caught up with Cardiovascular Programme Manager Luke Burton to hear more about the work that’s going on within his workstream.
So why are partners in Surrey Heartlands looking at improving Cardiovascular services for our citizens?
We are lucky in our area as in general we are pretty healthy but have the extra challenge of an aging population. However when we looked at the data and spoke to residents, there are some areas that we can improve on to ensure we all live longer and healthier lives. If you compare us to similar areas we don’t do as well as we should do in finding people with high blood pressure and with rhythm problems with their heart.
Having high blood pressure can lead to lots of long term health problems and having issues with heart rhythms can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Not only can we do better at finding people, we have some work to do to ensure those who have been found have the right support. We have also found a way to make sure people who have angina or chest pain can have their results and treatment more quickly rather than having to have lots of different tests.
What has happened so far and how is it going?
I think it’s going well, well I would do wouldn’t I? We have been looking at lots of different data and speaking to lots of different partners to make sure we all agree on the areas we are looking at. A main part of this was a co-design session where 50 citizens, professionals and clinicians all came together to discuss the key areas and to agree what we can do about them. These are High Blood Pressure (Hypertension), Atrial Fibrillation (AF – a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate), improving chest pain clinics and heart failure. We are hoping to take all of our findings to the Transformation Board (the executive board for the Surrey Heartlands partnership) for them to agree the next steps.
What things are you looking at that will make a difference to local people?
For Hypertension we are initially looking to improve the detection of high blood pressure within public sector staff. If we can’t detect and reduce high blood pressure in our own workforce how can we ask the public to improve? We are going to go into work places and measure people’s blood pressure and set up a referral process and support for those that need it. There is large public sector workforce in the Surrey Heartlands area and the idea is that they all have family and friends and will spread the message.
To improve the detection of AF we are already working with partners (e.g. our local Academic Health Science Network and CCGs) to roll out the use of special heart rate/rhythm monitors. These monitors have pads where you put your fingers which link into a smart phone to measure heart rhythm. These can be used by GPs, nurses or possible community champions in the future. Thinking ahead, it’s hoped that devices like this could link straight into your health records and if there are any problems a healthcare professional could give you a call.
To make sure people with high blood pressure and AF have the right care, we hope to work with GP practices to ensure patients on their records that are high risk or already known, have the support they need. Ensuring these people have the right support will reduce strokes and other long term illnesses.
One of the most positive things that has happened already is that the leading cardiologists in Surrey Heartlands have agreed to change the way that people with chest pain will be treated. At present if someone has stable chest pain (non-emergency) they would have to go to a clinic where they have lots of different tests done. This can take a long time meaning extra stress for the patient and can also be intrusive. Partners have agreed to include a new test which involves a scanner where a team of people from many different disciplines work together to understand the results. This test is a lot more accurate, it reduces the need for other tests and would save time and money. We just need to work together to see how we can introduce this practice into all our hospitals. This is the beauty of working as a big system, as any barriers can be tackled together and we learn together. We are working with one of or CCGs – Surrey Downs – who will pilot this in mid-November to see how it works and share the learning across the partnership.
If you would like further information on this or the workstream in general please contact Luke on firstname.lastname@example.org