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£9 million NHS programme to boost anticoagulation rates in atrial fibrillation

A £9 million NHS programme to identify patients on GP lists at risk of a stroke because they are not on recommended medication for atrial fibrillation is being rolled out across 23 CCGs.

Specialist nurses and pharmacists will review practice records to find people who already have a diagnosis but are not receiving anticoagulation therapy.

NHS Digital figures suggest there are 147,000 people with atrial fibrillation at high risk of stroke who are not treated with anticoagulation medication.

The demonstrator project, which runs until March next year, is aiming to identify 20,000 of them.

It follows a pilot project in two CCGs in south London which over the course of a year reviewed 1,500 patients in 92 practices where 947 patients were found not to be receiving anticoagulation.

NHS England said since then there had been a 25% reduction in atrial fibrillation related strokes in those two CCGs.

Under the programme, personalised treatment plans will be agreed between the nurses and pharmacists carrying out the scheme and the patients GP in ‘virtual clinics’.

The 23 CCGs taking part were selected on the basis of deprivation levels and QOF achievement for atrial fibrillation.

NHS England said the programme was part of the NHS long-term plan goal to prevent over 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases over the next 10 years.

NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: ‘By targeting help at those people most at risk of illness, and training up specialist clinicians, the NHS in England will help families across the country avoid the pain and loss associated with stroke.’

Dr Matt Kearney, GP and national clinical director for cardiovascular disease prevention added: ‘People living with atrial fibrillation may not be aware of the serious health risks they face, which is why targeting help at those groups most at risk, will be a lifesaver.

‘Making effective treatment available and expanding access to care across England will mean GPs and pharmacists can offer support and prevent death and long-lasting harm.’