Alexander Stafford, MP for Rother Valley met with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester to discuss the need for urgent action to address the pandemic’s devastating impact on heart care.
A new report from the BHF has estimated that 2090 people in NHS Rotherham CCG could be waiting for life saving heart diagnosis and treatment two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – 65.7% per cent higher than the waiting list before the pandemic began (1).
Alexander Stafford MP heard that the BHF is calling for Government to take significant action to reduce the heart care backlog and build a stronger NHS for the future. The charity argues that this must include a clear plan for cardiovascular services and rapid and substantial long-term investment to build more capacity into NHS England and relieve pressure on exhausted health workers, as well as better support for heart patients while they wait for vital treatment.
The BHF warns that without this immediate intervention, alongside the necessary investment at the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, there is a risk that thousands more people could die from heart and circulatory diseases, despite the NHS going above and beyond during the pandemic.
Long waits for diagnosis and treatment of conditions like coronary heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure are emotionally distressing and increase the risk of someone becoming more unwell or even dying while they wait for vital care. There were 5,800 “excess” deaths from heart and circulatory conditions in the first year of the pandemic in England, and the significant delays to care have likely contributed to this figure.
Alarmingly, the BHF’s The Untold Heartbreak report details how long waits for cardiovascular care are only the tip of the iceberg. 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.
During the party conference, Alexander Stafford MP met with the BHF’s policy team to discuss the case for building a more resilient health system to save more lives from heart and circulatory diseases for years to come.
Alexander Stafford MP for Rother Valley said:
"I agree that urgent action is needed to end the untold heartbreak now. A clear plan, alongside significant and ongoing investment, is vital to build capacity back into the health service and relieve the pressure on overstretched health workers. I pledge to work with the BHF to ensure this is a priority for the Government."
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:
"Every number on a waiting list is a loved one facing a potentially agonising wait for care that could save or improve their life."
"Vital heart tests and surgery can’t be put off - long delays lead to debilitating anxiety and put people’s lives at risk. The voices of people with heart and circulatory diseases must be heard as the Government considers the action needed to tackle both the mounting backlog in cardiovascular care and the pandemic’s wider impact on vital heart treatment.”