NICE non-COVID-19 Guidance

NICE non-COVID-19 Guidance

Monday 29th June 2020

Last week NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), the body which provides evidence-based recommendations for care and service provision in England, announced that they had restarted publishing non-COVID-19 guidance in a phased manner. Unfortunately, heart valve disease was not included as a priority in the first phase of guidelines. This means that these guidelines will be delayed until late this year at the very earliest, four years after NHS England first called for the guidelines.

During the COVID-19 outbreak cardiovascular patients have been disproportionately impacted in many ways. Not only are they in the most “at-risk” groups, but they have also experienced a prolonged time isolated at home and away from their loved ones.

Heart Valve Voice understands that priorities must be made in these extraordinary circumstances, and difficult decisions cannot be shied away from. However, with timely treatment, cardiovascular patients can return to a better quality of life, benefit from a reduced risk from a pandemic and get back to contributing to their community and the economy. NICE already has an excellent template for the guidelines based on Heart Valve Voice’s Gold Standard of Care report produced in conjunction with the UK’s leading cardiovascular experts.

Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Heart Valve Voice Chairman, Chris Young “The impact of COVID-19 on cardiovascular patients has been severe. Timely treatment of heart valve disease is critical for the life of the patient, especially during a global pandemic where their exiting condition can already make them more vulnerable to contracting the virus. It is disappointing to see heart valve disease not included as a priority in this first phase of the guidelines. Still, patients should be assured to know that we physicians will always make you our priority and take treatment action whenever possible.”

Throughout the COVID-19 response, we have seen examples of how clinicians from across the pathway were able to deliver best practice for patients despite the pressures exerted on themselves and the health service. We will work to ensure that these best practices are captured, learned from and ultimately extended to all cardiovascular patients who have experienced delays or are awaiting treatment.

Our CEO, Wil Woan, said “It is disappointing and frustrating to see heart valve disease is not included as a priority in the first phase of NICE guidelines. Valve disease patients should be treated as a matter of priority so they can get back to their lives and continue making significant contributions to their community through work, caring and volunteering. Despite this, we will work hard to ensure valve disease patients are treated promptly and we will look to work with NICE to bring forward the publication of these important guidelines.’