Time is of the essence: delays and waits need urgent action for cardiovascular care

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NICOR has published today (8 June 2023) its National Cardiac Audit Programme (NCAP) Annual Report 2023.

The report, called Time is of the essence: delays and waits need urgent action covers the 12 months from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022, during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and records the initial recovery of NHS hospital services for patients receiving cardiovascular care.

The NHS continues to face huge challenges two years after the onset of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Across many NHS services patients are experiencing delays and waits to access treatment. These are potentially having a detrimental effects on patients, staff and the families and/or carers of cardiovascular care patients.

Key points from the report:

  • The number of patients presenting to hospital and the number of treatments delivered were nearly back to pre-pandemic levels in the majority of sub-specialties
  • The number of congenital heart procedures overall had partially recovered but were still 8% fewer than pre-pandemic levels; recovery was mainly for percutaneous interventional and pacing procedures but cardiac surgical procedures in children had not recovered
  • 19% of heart attack patients self-presented to hospital rather than waiting for an ambulance
  • The times to emergency treatment of patients with high risk heart attacks worsened and there were significant delays to urgent treatment for patients with lower risk heart attacks
  • Waiting times for urgent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedures were worse, with no hospital achieving the 7-day target
  • Fewer than half of patients were admitted to cardiology wards and gender and age inequalities were seen
  • Just under 10% of patients admitted with heart failure in 2021/22 were referred during hospitalisation for cardiac rehabilitation
  • 30-day mortality has improved for heart failure patients
  • Use of leadless pacemakers increased significantly.

The Annual Report is accompanied by supporting reports from six sub-specialties covered by the audit programme and a dedicated Annual Report for Patients, Carers and the Public, which was co-written by the NICOR Patient Representative Group Chair, Sarah Murray, and patient representative Richard Corder and includes patient experiences during the recovery period.