The UK's first Cardiovascular Patients Bill of Rights has been launched by the British Cardiac Patients Association (BCPA) in a move to highlight the needs of heart disease patients around the UK and to fight for a standardised level of care to be delivered by the NHS.
The government is set to miss targets for reducing inequalities in circulatory disease, including heart attack and stroke, while death rates from heart disease still remain higher in the UK than in much of western Europe.
The publication of the cardiovascular Bill was welcomed by Professor Michael Kirby, Visiting Professor to the Faculty of Health and Human Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, who has also worked as a GP and editor of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Journal.
"We have long been in need of a benchmark such as this Bill to help cardiovascular patients understand the level of care they should expect, and to help PCTs identify where they are falling short in providing these fundamental patient rights", said Professor Kirby.
The Bill introduces five fundamental patient rights that form the basis for transforming patient care for cardiovascular patients. These include the right to effective primary care management (with ongoing assistance from GPs and practice nurses), the right to joined-up support and care and the right to early intervention.
Eve Knight, Development Advisor and Life Member of the BCPA, said provision of the patients rights included in the Bill will translate into huge improvements in the current standard of cardiovascular care.
The BCPA encourages all PCTs and relevant clinicians to review the Bill and take immediate action to meet all of the targets outlined," said Ms Knight. "We will be working with the NHS and PCTs across the UK to measure the impact of the Bill and ensure a new level of accountability for cardiovascular care."
She added: "Heart disease is the UK's largest cause of death, and death rates remain higher in this country than in similar healthcare systems across Europe. It's crucial the Bill is taken up – it is a genuine milestone in our pursuit of improved outcomes for heart patients in the UK, and we simply can't afford to ignore it."
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"It may improve in the areas where there are (still) perceptions of patients as subjects only if the profession(s) read and understand what it means. Since my 'event' in Dec 2006 and subsequent discharge by my cardiologist, I have yet to receive any form of follow-up from my GP practice. I with others formed a local support group with help from the DGH nursing staff, which helps fill in the blanks" – John Plant, Doncaster