New NICE indicators will help GPs and CCGs improve the identification and management of atrial fibrillation (AF) – a common heart condition that causes an irregular heartbeat and increases the risk of stroke.
NICE indicators measure the quality of care a person receives and the impact this has on their health. The indicators focus on where improvements could be made.
One of the new NICE indicators will support CCGs to record the number of people who have suffered a stroke and have not been receiving NICE recommended treatment (such as blood thinners) for their AF.
It is estimated up to 470,000 adults with AF have not been diagnosed and therefore are not receiving appropriate advice to reduce their risk of stroke.
Professor Danny Keenan, associate medical director, Central Manchester University Hospitals and chair of the indicator advisory committee, said: “Effective treatment of atrial fibrillation can be the difference between life and death.
“These indicators will help to identify where people with atrial fibrillation have slipped through the cracks, and are not receiving the best treatment.
“It is only with data that we can properly assess the steps needed to ensure no-one at risk is left unchecked or untreated.”
Next year 30 GP practices across the UK will test two more AF-focused NICE indicators. GPs will routinely test anyone above 65 years of age for AF and assess how often someone with AF discusses their treatment with their GP. If these two measures are found to improve the identification and management of AF they could be rolled out in 2017/18.
Dr Andrew Black, GP at the Mortimer Medical Practice and deputy chair of the indicator advisory committee said: “Improving the identification of atrial fibrillation and ensuring we perform timely reviews of treatment are two very easy steps we can take, which could have a huge benefit to our patients.
“I am glad these indicators are being piloted and I look forward to reviewing the impact they have had.”
Stroke is the third largest cause of death in the UK. Each year in England approximately 110,000 people have a stroke with AF thought to cause one-in-five of these.
NHS Improvement suggests around 8,000 AF related strokes could be prevented if the condition was better managed saving the NHS £95 million a year.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and health and social care director at NICE, said: “These indicators are a prime example of how NICE is working to enhance the quality of care in the NHS whilst recognising that we must use its scarce resources wisely.”