NHS West Hampshire CCG has been confirmed as a finalist for an award by the well-respected Health Service Journal (HSJ) for a project which a led to a reduction in the number of strokes in our area.
The HSJ Value in Healthcare Awards have included NHS West Hampshire CCG in the category of ‘pharmacy and medicines optimisation’ for our innovative work around diagnosing and treating people with atrial fibrillation, a serious heart condition which can lead to stroke. Between September 2014 and March 2015, the total number of expected strokes for the year ahead in high-risk people with atrial fibrillation fell by 10 per cent.
Atrial fibrillation may cause your heartbeat to become irregular and at times very fast. It causes shortness of breath, tiredness and dizziness, although many people do not know that they have the condition.
In the West Hampshire CCG area, we identified atrial fibrillation as being a major risk factor for stroke for people in our area. We believe that approximately 2,000 people had undiagnosed atrial fibrillation in 2014.
As a result, we bought in state of the art technology in the shape of ‘WatchBP’ machines. These devices, which we have rolled out in all of our 51 GP practices, measure your blood pressure and are also able to detect whether you have atrial fibrillation. These devices are being used as part of NHS Health Checks, long term conditions clinics and flu clinics.
The devices have been helping our colleagues in GP practices to help diagnose people with atrial fibrillation, who can now receive the treatment they need. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the patient can be prescribed with the right medicine to help manage the condition and therefore reduce the risk of stroke.
In addition, we have been supporting people who have already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Our Medicines Management team has worked with local GPs to review all patients with the condition to ensure they are on the most effective medicine to reduce the risk of stroke.
While we continue to ensure the difference this is making to patients, we have found that there were fewer actual strokes since the project began. Between September 2014 and March 2015, the total number of expected strokes for the year ahead in high-risk people with atrial fibrillation fell by 10 per cent.
This piece of work has already been recognised nationally this year by NHS Clinical Commissioners, having been featured in detail as part of their report ‘Delivering a healthier future: How CCGs are leading the way on prevention and early diagnosis’.
Dr Sarah Schofield, local GP and Chair of NHS West Hampshire CCG, said:
“I am so pleased for our teams here at the CCG, who have been recognised for their hard work to help reduce the number of strokes in high-risk people with atrial fibrillation.
“It is encouraging to see the positive impact that our work with GP practices in West Hampshire is having. Atrial fibrillation is challenging to diagnose, because there are very few symptoms. Thanks to state of the art equipment, we can help diagnose this condition sooner during the routine clinics our GP practices hold.”