A specialist NHS clinic treating patients with heart failure has been expanded so that patients across the whole of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland can be treated quickly and conveniently, directly after being referred by their GP

The Rapid Access Heart Failure Service was launched in West Leicestershire as part of the Better Care Together programme in April 2014. Following a successful pilot that demonstrated that the scheme provided faster care and received a positive response from patients, the decision was taken to extend the service across the rest of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

During 2015/16, the pilot highlighted that hospital admissions for patients with symptoms of heart failure, from West Leicestershire, fell compared to the national average. The service means that instead of patients being referred by a Heart Failure Nurse (HFN) or GP directly into hospital and admitted to a ward, the patient will be assessed either at a daytime or evening clinic when referred by their GP. The majority of these patients don’t need to be admitted to hospital but require their condition assessing or monitoring to ensure they stay well.

The service gives the patient and their family peace of mind, in an outpatient setting, in a much more timely and convenient manner.

If a GP suspects that a patient has heart failure or they already have heart failure and their condition has deteriorated, their GP will refer them for a rapid review by a Consultant Cardiologist at a specialist clinic at Glenfield Hospital within 72 hours. In some cases where patients are too poorly and need acute hospital care, they will still be admitted to hospital.

Dr Kapur, lead on long term conditions and a GP board member at Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group speaking on behalf of the three CCGs, said: “Due to local success, the pilot scheme has been extended across the city and county to provide a service to those patients that are currently experiencing suspected heart failure.

 “West Leicestershire has experienced some fantastic results and we hope the scheme will contribute to keeping people healthier for longer in the City and East Leicestershire and Rutland.

“We want to ensure patients receive the care and support they need in the right place and in a timely manner. The majority of these patients don’t need to be admitted to hospital but require their condition assessing or monitoring to ensure they stay well. This service allows this to be carried out as an outpatient in hospital so their condition is managed safely and effectively.”

Dr Loke, lead clinician from University of Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, explained, “Patients are referred directly by their GP via an on-line process (PRISM) and are seen by a consultant cardiologist at the Glenfield Hospital.

“We piloted the service for 18 months with GP practices in West Leicestershire and following its success it has now been formally commissioned to provide the service for GP practices across East Leicestershire and Rutland and Leicester City clinical commissioning group as well. We saw over 120 patients in the first 12 months, with extremely high satisfaction ratings from users and patients and also reduced the number of patients needing an emergency admission.”

Mr Bird had a heart scan arranged by his doctor which showed severe heart complications.  The GP contacted the service who saw the patient the following morning.Mr Bird, 72 from Loughborough said: “I was feeling very poorly and had begun to retain a lot of water, which started in my legs and meant I found it difficult to do simple things like get in and out of the car.  I went to see my GP and was referred to have a heart scan at Loughborough Hospital.  The following day I saw Dr Loke and was prescribed some stronger tablets to help reduce the extra three stone in water I was carrying.  Four weeks later to the day I had my new pacemaker fitted, which has probably saved my life – the whole process was so quick.  I can now do the things I like, and I enjoy spending time working in my garden, something I couldn’t do before.”

Patients in East Leicestershire, Rutland and City can now benefit from the service. For more information on heart failure visit the NHS Choices pages at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Heart-failure/Pages/Introduction.aspx or if you have any concerns speak to your GP or Heart Failure Nurse.