Thursday 13th January 2022

2022 is upon us, and I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on Heart Valve Voice’s achievements in 2021 and look forward to 2022. 2022 presents valve disease patients and the nation with a complex challenge, but we at Heart Valve Voice have put together an ambitious strategy to ensure we continue to support patients and improve the detection and diagnosis of the condition.

2021 saw Heart Valve Voice face the continued challenges presented by Covid19. I was proud of the work the team and our incredible supporters did to raise the level of awareness of the condition and promote the needs of heart valve disease patients. Across our JustTreatUs, JustGo and Awareness Week campaigns, we reached over 20 million people - raising awareness of the condition, ensuring people know the signs and symptoms and making heart valve disease a part of the conversation alongside other serious conditions. These campaigns made a real difference and I’ve no doubt that the Just Go and Just Treat Us campaigns saved lives and will continue to do so in 2022.

When I look back at 2021, I think I am most proud of our contribution to the new NICE guidelines for heart valve disease. The consultation involved over 150 patients, and NICE commended our final submission for its strong patient voice. That strong patient voice and the contribution of all those patients enabled us to have a significant influence over the final guidelines. These guidelines were the sum of years of work, and to see Heart Valve Voice put patients voices at the heart of the final guidelines is something that I feel very proud of. It was a real team effort, and I cannot thank enough all those who contributed to them.

Finally, our 100,000 Conversations campaign enabled us to reach new audiences and grow our influence. From patients to clinicians to MPs and celebrities, people bought into the fundamental message of the campaign - that by talking about the condition, we as a collective can start a bigger conversation about heart valve disease. At last count, we were under 1000 conversations away from completion, and the team should take great pride in their hard work in making that happen.

2022 will be an extraordinary challenge for the NHS. Still, Heart Valve Voice has plans to ensure we can support valve disease patients throughout the Covid recovery and promote their needs. The growing waiting lists, workforce pressures and new ways of working create a complex challenge, and we will work with patients, clinicians and policymakers to ensure that a strong patient voice puts valve disease at the heart of the NHS’s response.

Awareness will be a crucial component of our 2022 strategy. We have an educational project that will teach half a million people what valve disease is, what the symptoms are, what to do if you experience symptoms and how the condition is treated. This strategy will help us support primary care by empowering patients with the information they need to identify signs in themselves and their loved ones.

But to achieve our goals, we will need the continued support of our incredible patient community. That strong patient voice helped us secure changes to the NICE guidelines and will be essential for us to ensure valve disease treatment is prioritised; together we can help the NHS continue to work towards delivering on the Long Term Plan and save lives.

Thank you to everyone for their support in 2021. Our patient community, Trustees, industry partners and clinical supporters give us the strength we need to affect real change, and I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2022.