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dinsdag 4 september 2018

RCGP: Better communication between hospitals and GPs could have 'huge impact' on heart care, says College

Better communication between hospitals and GPs could have 'huge impact' on heart care, says College

He said: "Heart failure is a very serious condition and one that GPs are acutely attuned to look out for in patients - but in the early stages of the disease, some symptoms can be vague and more likely to indicate other, more common conditions.

"Nevertheless, GPs and our teams will routinely monitor our patients at-risk of heart disease through cholesterol and blood pressure testing - as well as advocating healthy lifestyles for patients, and offering advice to help them make lifestyle changes that could reduce their risk of heart disease. We will take a holistic approach to care, and strive to include our patients in the decision making about their treatment, wherever possible.

"Whilst the paper shows that more patients with heart disease have had appropriate tests in primary care over the past couple of decades, even better access for GPs to diagnostic tools in the community would certainly help to improve detection of heart disease.

"Currently, GPs often have to rely on 'red flag symptoms' that could indicate heart failure, such as breathlessness, swelling in the legs, or general fatigue. Symptoms can be different from patient to patient, and few present with all the tell-tale signs of heart failure, which makes it difficult to identify without access to more sophisticated tests - and particularly challenging within the constraints of a standard 10-minute consultation.

"There also needs to be improved communication between hospitals and GPs which, as this research shows, can have a huge impact on the quality of follow-up care for heart failure patients, and the starting point for this will be greatly enhanced, joined up IT systems between primary and secondary care.

"Ultimately, general practice makes the vast majority of NHS patient contacts, alleviating pressures on secondary care by acting as the gateway to specialist services. We need the tools to be able to do this, which is why the College is calling for £2.5bn extra a year as part of the Prime Minister's long-term plan for the NHS - on top of what has already been promised in NHS England's GP Forward View, which needs to be delivered in full, and as a matter of urgency.

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GPs welcome new advice on 'jargon-free' communication with patients

"When we're all so busy, it's easy to use language we're most familiar with as doctors, and other forms of short hand and jargon that might even be difficult for doctors working in one specialty to understand from doctors working in another, so for patients it could be really confusing.

"By hospital doctors writing any letters directly to patients, with their GP copied in so we are always aware of what is happening regarding our patient's care, it should make the process more patient-centred, and make them feel more involved in their care, which will be beneficial for everyone. However, it must result in a patient-centred letter that allows the patient to understand what has happened, what has been found, and what the future plan should be. I have seen a number of patients who have asked me to 'translate' the letter they have received from the hospital, which has been little more than a medical summary.

"This is a really important change to the way doctors communicate with patients, and I'm pleased that through the Academy the concept has gained support from all specialties – it's now important to get the message out to healthcare professionals across the NHS, and start the wheels in motion."

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Heart age self-test results should prompt changes to our health habits, says College

"Today's figures show that as a nation we are taking our heart health for granted. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of having a heart attack and causes many other health issues, but we can all take simple steps to improve our health by being more active and doing regular exercise, cutting down on unhealthy foods and alcohol and stopping smoking.

"Healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels are a key part of good cardiovascular health and these can be checked at routine appointments with a member of the team at your local surgery. Anyone who has a family history of heart disease, or who is worried by the findings of the new self-test, can seek further help from reputable sources like NHS choices or from a healthcare professional who can advise on next steps."

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