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UCLPartners welcomes progress at Barts Heart Centre

24 March 2016

This week, Barts Health NHS Trust published data that shows more heart patients are being treated faster and achieving better health outcomes following the establishment of the country’s largest cardiac centre.

The data shows significant improvements in specialist care for patients with heart disease since the creation of theBarts Heart Centre (BHC) at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

One of the largest cardiac centres in the world, BHC was created following the reorganisation of specialist heart services in north east and north central London with the aim of saving one thousand lives each year.  Proposals to establish the specialist centre as a hub in a connected system of care, including local hospitals, primary and community care services, were developed by teams of cardiac clinicians from across the region, supported by UCLPartners.

Figures for the first nine months of the BHC’s operation indicate significant improvements have been gained from running patient services out of a single specialist cardiovascular hub.   For example, the BHC is now offering full seven-day emergency and specialist cover for patients whose hearts have stopped. Responses to heart attacks are quicker, with eight out of ten patients receiving treatment to re-open blocked arteries within the national standard of two-and-a-half hours after ambulance call-out and over 80% treated within an hour of arrival at the centre.

Overall BHC is now treating over 5,000 patients every month, more than under the previous split-site arrangements. The extra activity includes:

  • A 20 per cent rise in the number of patients transferred from other hospitals in London for specialist treatment, to about 200 a month.
  • Twice the number receiving new heart valves through a minimal technique via an artery in the leg (thus avoiding the need for open heart surgery), to about 19 every month
  • A 40 per cent rise in the number of patients being assessed for whether they need immediate specialist treatment for a heart attack, to about 175 a month.

In addition the proportion of procedures cancelled has effectively halved to 4 per cent, and the numbers waiting for treatment have fallen dramatically. Virtually all cardiac patients are now tested within six weeks of being referred by their GP, and all patients needing surgery see a consultant within the national standard of 18 weeks.

Prof Charles Knight, managing director of St Bartholomew’s Hospital and group executive director of the Barts Heart Centre, said:

“The BHC was established on the back of the original clinical case for tackling the high rates of early deaths from heart disease in north east London. This was developed by UCLPartners, the academic health science network for the region, and we are grateful to them, our local commissioners and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for working with us to bring about changes which have put us firmly on the road towards our aim of saving a thousand lives a year.

“Our vision is to create an integrated cardiovascular system that delivers care designed around the patient 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The world-class facility we are creating at St Bartholomew’s will provide the volume of procedures necessary to keep our doctors at the peak of their professional practice, while also enabling them to carry out vital medical research and help train the heart doctors and nurses of the future.”

Professor Sir David Fish, Managing Director of UCLPartners said:

“On behalf of the UCLPartners Board and team, I congratulate all the staff in the region who have worked together relentlessly to create this specialist centre at Barts to improve the health and care of patients with heart problems.

“I am delighted to see the progress the centre has made in just the first nine months and this is testament to the dedication and passion of all the teams involved.  The results show that joining up services and working collaboratively across the health and care system can make a very positive difference to patients’ lives.  This is a fantastic example that other services should learn from.”