Extra £9 million for NHS to treat people at high risk of stroke

Over 3,000 patients across the North East and North Cumbria are set to benefit from extra investment to treat people at high risk of stroke.

NHS England has announced they are to invest £9 million to help find and treat people with an irregular heart rhythm that puts them at high risk of stroke.

Experts estimate that more than 147,000 people in England with an irregular heart rhythm that puts them at risk of stroke are not receiving appropriate treatment. In the North East and North Cumbria, the figure is estimated to be 9,221.

Making sure people with this condition are given optimal treatment – usually blood-thinning medication to prevent clots – can more than halve their risk of having a stroke.

The £9 million investment will fund specialists to work with GPs and advise them on the best treatment for people identified as having irregular heart rhythms (known as atrial fibrillation).

North Tyneside, Northumberland and North Cumbria are included in the 23 areas of the country to receive funding for specialist clinical pharmacists and nurses to help identify people who could benefit from medication.

Specialist clinicians will review patients’ records in ‘virtual clinics’, and those at risk will then be invited into their practice to discuss the treatment and be offered a personalised treatment plan by their GP.

The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) will support the regional delivery of the scheme, which aims to treat more than 3,000 people and is expected to prevent up to 172 strokes and save lives within the region.

Professor Julia Newton, Medical Director at the AHSN NENC, said: “We know that there are large numbers of people with atrial fibrillation that are not receiving the right treatment and this needs to change. This programme will help to provide better treatment for those patients, supporting staff who work in primary care and ultimately helping to prevent strokes and save lives across the North East and North Cumbria.


“We’re thrilled to support this scheme within the region and will work closely with all the CCGs taking part to ensure effectively delivery of this important work which has the potential to benefit many people in the region.


“We’d urge any patients who are contacted by their GP and invited to review their treatment as part of the scheme to attend the appointment.”


Dr Lesley Ashton, a local GP and clinical lead at NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “People with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke, so this can make a real difference in preventing strokes, saving lives and helping people avoid severe disability.”


Siobhan Brown, Chief Operating Officer at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “There is strong evidence that untreated atrial fibrillation are at much higher risk of suffering a stroke – but the good news is that the right treatment can reduce that risk by two thirds.


“This scheme could prevent around 66 strokes, saving lives and helping people avoid severe long-term health problems.


“All 41 of our practices are taking part in the project, with support from the cardiologist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to ensure we improve skills and processes wherever we can.”


Andrea Loudon, Primary Care Medicines Lead for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This focused piece of work will enable our primary care teams in north Cumbria to take a closer look to identify those who might be at risk and ensure we are acting to prevent strokes where possible. We are committed to supporting prevention work to enable better outcomes for our community.”


To read more about the AHSN NENC work to prevent and treat atrial fibrillation, visit: https://healthinnovationnenc.org.uk/what-we-do/improving-population-health/atrial-fibrillation/