Wil’s Blog – Reflecting on 2023 and Looking Forward to 2024

Published On: 4 January 2024Categories: Blog, News

2023 was a fantastic year at Heart Valve Voice, with the charity going from strength to strength with our awareness work and supporting valve patients and their families. It is a testament to the hard work of the team and our patient advocates that despite the challenges we’ve faced throughout the year we’ve still been able to deliver award-winning campaigns and improve pathways for future patients.

Our big push in 2023 from an awareness perspective was our SLOW campaign and the Your Heart Matters events. Our SLOW video, which you can see here, has been viewed over 600,000 on YouTube alone, and coupled with it being shown at events up and down the country, the video has already reached millions and no doubt improved awareness of those red-flag symptoms of heart valve disease.

Our Your Heart Matters tour came to a close in 2023. This two-year awareness campaign visited towns and cities across the UK, promoting awareness of valve disease and highlighting the importance of getting a stethoscope check if you experience any red flag symptoms. Through our media campaign, we reached millions of people and were able to raise the profile of valve disease. The tour culminated in an event at the Houses of Parliament, where MPs, Members of the House of Lords and estate staff were invited to learn about the campaign and pledge their commitment to improving detection of this common, serious, but treatable condition.

We also put a focus on inequalities in access to diagnostics and treatment. I was proud to attend an APPG for Women’s Health meeting with one of our Patient Advocates and share what I’ve learned during my time at Heart Valve Voice. We held awareness campaigns throughout the year with faith groups, and that work will continue into 2024 and beyond.

During International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week, we ran a campaign with Manchester Library Services, visiting nine libraries in deprived areas across the city and educating visitors on valve disease and what to do if they or anyone they know experienced it. Libraries across the city have evolved into more than just a book depository, they are hubs where residents can access various services. This campaign has helped us develop a blueprint for delivering education in the community and taking our message to residents.

As well as promoting awareness and education, we wanted to look at how we can support clinicians and NHS decision-makers to optimise the pathway, which led us to conduct a survey of Cath Lab staff across the UK. We wanted to see what were the barriers to increasing treatment levels, and the survey shone a spotlight on the challenges, but also the solutions. We’ll be using the data to work with ICBs and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Heart Valve Disease to see how we can support their work moving forward, and we’ll be doing the same for surgical centres in 2024.

2023 culminated in our meeting on the HMS Belfast, where a group of stakeholders, including patients, clinicians, industry leaders, advocacy experts, regulatory experts and policymakers, came together to discuss how we deliver early detection, improved access to diagnostics and increased treatment levels. The meeting was a first of its kind for Heart Valve Voice and has given us a two-year action plan with strategic objectives and tactics which we believe will improve patient experience across the UK. I want to thank everyone who contributed their time and expertise to that event, it will undoubtedly enhance Heart Valve Voice’s output moving forward.

I want to thank everyone who has supported us in 2023, our advocates, clinical stakeholders and industry supporters have made it one of the best we’ve had, and we couldn’t do a fraction of what we do without you. Lastly, I want to give a special thanks to the team at Heart Valve Voice. Trish, Lois, Martina and Callum have worked incredibly hard throughout the year, and their determination to help people drives this charity forward.

Thanks for everything you’ve done for us and I look forward to what we can achieve together in 2024!

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