150% increase in waiting time for heart care in Aylesbury's CCG predicted

The waiting time for life saving treatment is set to triple since the pandemic started.

By James Lowson
Monday, 9th August 2021, 2:37 pm
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 2:38 pm

A new data model suggests the waiting time for life saving heart diagnosis and treatment is set to triple in Aylesbury's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Projections from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) show that in just two years since health services first started dealing with Covid, the waiting time will increase by 150% in Bucks CCG.

Data for Bucks shows the cardiology waiting list swelling from 1,380 people to 3,447 a 150% increase.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation

The charity's information shows the number of people waiting for cardiology back in February 2020, its projections reveal an estimated waiting list for March 2022.

BHF says the projection is the worst 'possible' scenario where the NHS in England doesn’t get enough investment and is under increased pressure from Covid-19 or a bad winter.

A recent report published by the charity titled 'The Untold Heartbreak' predicted it could take three to five years for the backlog to recover back to pre-pandemic levels.

The report covered how quickly it would take for the waiting list to return back to normality in a best case scenario.

Figures provided by BHF states before the pandemic people in England were on cardiology waiting lists for heart diagnosis or treatment and 8,400 people were waiting for heart surgery.

A spokesperson for BHF said: "Long waits for diagnosis and treatment of conditions like coronary heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure are emotionally distressing and increase the risk of someone becoming more unwell or even dying while they wait for vital care.

"There were 5,800 “excess” deaths from heart and circulatory conditions in the first year of the pandemic in England, and the significant delays to care have likely contributed to this figure."

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at BHF, said: “Even before the pandemic began, waiting lists for vital heart care were far too long. As this report shows, the pandemic has since pushed the NHS towards breaking point, with devastating consequences for the 660,000 people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the West Midlands.

“Delay in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases is not just about improving symptoms, however important that is – it is about saving lives. Tragically, we have already seen thousands of extra deaths from heart and circulatory diseases during the pandemic, and delays to care have likely contributed to this terrible toll.

“At this critical moment, the Government must act now to avoid more lives lost to treatable heart conditions. Addressing the growing heart care backlog is only the start. We must also see a clear plan, alongside significant and ongoing investment, to build capacity back into the NHS and address the pandemic’s impact on health workers. Getting this right would avoid preventable heartbreak for many families.”

However, the Government could reduce the heart care backlog by years if further significant action is taken now, the charity says. This must include a clear plan for cardiovascular services and rapid investment to build more capacity into NHS England and relieve pressure on exhausted health workers, as well as better support for heart patients while they wait for vital treatment.

The charity warns that without this immediate intervention, there is a risk that thousands more people could die from heart and circulatory diseases, despite the NHS going above and beyond during the pandemic.