Thursday 7th May 2020
On April 16th we released a statement which mapped out our response to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on cardiovascular disease, and we believe that now is the right time for us to begin to look forward and map a strategic direction for the next phase of our response.
Before we move on to our response to Phase 2, we must start by repeating our concern at the trend of cardiovascular patients avoiding hospitals for fear of contracting Covid-19. By not receiving urgent treatment, they may be putting their lives at greater risk. We must stress, that all the necessary precautions are in place to ensure patients are treated timely and safely. We urge all patients to monitor their symptoms closely and report any deteriorations immediately.
On April 29th NHS England published details regarding the second stage of Covid-19 response in an open letter from Simon Stevens, CEO, NHS England and Amanda Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer, NHS England.
From this letter, we understand that some of the treatment capacity previously required for Covid-19 will begin to be redeployed back into other services, and non-Covid-19 urgent services will step up over the next six weeks.
The challenge presented by Covid-19 is still severe, but we believe that since Phase 2 of the NHS response will see non-Covid-19 urgent services restarted, now is the time to increase our dialogue about heart valve disease.
Over the coming days and weeks, NHS Trusts across the country will begin to make judgements on their capacity to add some non-urgent elective care, and we will be monitoring the results of those discussions closely. These provisional plans will likely factor in access to appropriate resources, and all the societies will be working with hospitals, clinicians, and industry leaders to ensure the right equipment is in place to maximise treatment.
In the next six weeks, we expect to see the following three things.
- The return of urgent and time-critical surgery and non-surgical procedures towards pre-Covid19 levels of capacity
- Increase in availability of booked appointments and new secondary care dispositions that streamline pathways
- Hospitals to prioritise capacity for urgent elective cardiac surgery
Together Heart Valve Voice and the Professional Societies will work with clinicians and policymakers to ensure that as treatment restarts we maximise our resources to provide those who have experienced disruptions or are awaiting treatment as much information as possible.
As well as looking forward to the next phase in our response, we must take a moment now to capture the key learnings and lock in beneficial changes from Phase 1 that will increase our capacity to deliver for valve disease patients in Phase 2.
Throughout Phase 1 we have seen the enhancement of local system working, an increase in remote working, home-based admission processes, rapid scaling up of new technology, use of innovative treatments to streamline pathways and an increase in digital consultations.
We believe that out of this, within our response to the outbreak there have been emerging trends of best practice, and we must build upon and develop these to ensure that we maximise our ability to treat cardiovascular patients timely, effectively and safely.
Together, Heart Valve Voice and the Professional Societies will be working tirelessly to ensure that as urgent and non-urgent elective care services accelerate, patients have access to the information, support and treatment they need.