Charity warns heart surgery waiting times could rise more than 40% by next spring without new funding
"Delay in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases is not just about improving symptoms, however important that is - it is about saving lives." Professor Nilesh Samani, medical director, British Heart Foundation
The number of people waiting for heart surgery in England could rise by more than 40% by next spring, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has warned.
It has called for urgent government funding, or it will take up to five years for cardiac services to return to pre-Covid levels, they claim in their new report, The Untold Heartbreak.
Around 7.6 million people live with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. The waiting lists were far too long even before the pandemic and now services have been pushed to breaking point, according to the BHF.
Professor Nilesh Samani, BHF’s medical director, said: “Delay in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases is not just about improving symptoms, however important that is – it is about saving lives.
“At this critical moment, the government must act now to avoid more lives lost to treatable heart conditions. Addressing the growing heart care backlog is only the start.”
The 81-page report warns that missed opportunities to prevent, diagnose and treat heart and circulatory diseases, an unprecedented backlog of people waiting for care, and a cliff-edge fall in research funding could amount to a loss of progress for a generation and lives cut short from treatable heart conditions.
But it concludes that though the challenge for the health and care system is significant it is not insurmountable.
And it calls for swift and significant action from Governments across the UK, investing in services and setting a clear course of action for the future of the service and health and care workforce.
This should include adopting and accelerating use of artificial intelligence to treat patients at risk of heart attack.
For example, an AI scan, CaRi-Heart, which an spot minor problems undetected by routine scans, identifying inflammation and scarring in the lining of blood vessels that supply the heart is being rolled out at 15 hospitals around the country. It is hoped up to 350,000 patients could benefit every year.
Future Care Capital’s Care Tech Landscape review reported the digital tech market is growing rapidly.