NHS England delay ‘denies patients access to life saving treatment’

Patients are being denied access to heart treatments that could prevent strokes or save lives, after an NHS England project was delayed, a charity has told HSJ.

NHS England’s Commissioning Through Evaluation programme enables limited numbers of patients to receive treatment that shows “significant promise” but is not currently funded by the NHS.

Left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO), which could reduce strokes in people with atrial fibrillation, is one of the CTE projects under consideration.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure, aimed at preventing recurrent strokes and improving survival rates, and percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for mitral regurgitation (MitraClip) used to treat patients with heart failure and prevent the need for open heart surgery, are also part of the CTE scheme.

However, NHS England is warning patient groups and charities of a two month delay in evaluating data, making “a knock on effect” on future commissioning decisions possible.

A charity representing people with abnormal heart rhythms believes the delay will deny high risk patients access to treatment that could prevent AF related strokes or even save lives.

The Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association said LAAO already has approval in the US and has written to NHS England expressing concern over the delay.

Article from HSJ, 25 July 2017