National Heart Failure Audit
The National Heart Failure Audit was established in 2007 to monitor the care and treatment of patients in England and Wales with acute heart failure. The audit reports on all patients discharged from hospital with a primary diagnosis of heart failure, publishing analysis on patient outcomes and clinical practice.
Audit findings can be used to measure the implementation of contemporary guidelines for the clinical management of heart failure from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the European Society of Cardiology Heart Failure Association (ESC HFA).
The audit has consistently shown that specialist cardiology input and the prescription of recommended treatments are associated with prolonged survival and better outcomes for heart failure patients. Audit data is used by a number of national groups, including the NHS Information Centre, the Care Quality Commission and, as of 2012, audit analysis will be published on data.gov.uk.
The British Society for Heart Failure provides clinical input and strategic direction to the National Heart Failure Audit. The audit is managed by the National Institute of Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR), now posted at St Bartholomew's Hospital. It is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP).
As many of you will be aware, the National Heart Failure Audit 2015-16 were published in early August 2017 and saw some relatively high profile press coverage.
The data suggest that things appear to be getting better for patients admitted to hospital with heart failure, with higher rates of prescription of evidence-based treatments and, encouragingly, over half of patients prescribed the combination of all three disease modifying drugs. In addition, in-hospital mortality was lower than in previous years.
The improvements in outcomes for patients are clear and as the report indicates, are linked to specialist management of patients with heart failure. The report summary concludes with the following:
"This year’s report shows modest but important improvements which are to be celebrated. But an 8.9% in-patient mortality cannot be accepted and requires urgent attention within every acute trust admitting patients with heart failure."
It is heartening to be able to highlight improvements for our patients; let’s continue to strive for provision of specialist heart failure teams, and indeed units, to maximise the chances of ongoing improvements.