On Tuesday 13 September (the hottest day in September since 1911) I attended the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Report on Heart Failure. The launch was held at the House of Commons, with MPs invited to drop by to talk to clinicians, researchers and patients. The report was the culmination of an inquiry into heart failure that began in March 2016 chaired by the honourable Stuart Andrew, MP, and supported by the British Heart Foundation. The inquiry took in written evidence (to which CNRG contributed based on our research and discussions with patients), oral evidence sessions and two focus groups held with patients. The focus was on diagnosis, treatment and care across healthcare settings, including palliative care. The report has 10 recommendations related to improving diagnosis, information and support for patients, integrated management, exercise-based rehabilitation, palliative care and advanced care planning.
Heart failure specialist nurses (HFSNs) are specifically cited in 2 of the recommendations. First of all, there is a need to determine the number, location and qualifications of HFSNs across the country and ensure that the workforce is sufficient to meet demand. Secondly, a multi-disciplinary, integrated approach to care (including HFSNs) is needed. A moving tribute to the value of a HFSN for monitoring and support, prescribing and titrating medications was provided in a patient story. The patient credits the HFSN with helping her to stay healthier and out of hospital. Access to HFSNs is variable, and there are not any national definitions, standards or competency frameworks for these nurses.
I welcome the recommendations in the report, although the challenge is in implementation. It’s a good first step but we need to show through research and service evaluation that implementing these recommendations can improve patients’ lives and be cost-effective. The report can be accessed here.
Below are some pictures from the launch. Jacqui Hunt, President of the British Association of Nurses in Cardiovascular Care (BANCC) and a HFSN was on the Advisory Panel of the Report. She is pictured with me below and talking eloquently about HF. Julie Bartlett was one of the patients who told her story, and a staunch advocate of HFSNs.