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NHS disruption driving rise in heart deaths, charity says

Extreme disruption to NHS services has been driving a sharp spike in heart disease deaths since the start of the pandemic, a charity has warned.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said ambulance delays, inaccessible care and waits for surgery are linked to 30,000 excess cardiac deaths in England.

It has called for a new strategy to reduce "unacceptable" waiting times.

Doctors and groups representing patients have become increasingly concerned about the high number of deaths of any cause recorded this year.

New analysis of the mortality data by the BHF suggests heart disease is among the most common causes, responsible for 230 deaths a week above expected rates since February 2020.

The charity said "significant and widespread" disruption to heart care services was driving the increase.

Its analysis of NHS data showed that 346,129 people were waiting for time-sensitive cardiac care at the end of August 2022, up 49% since February 2020.

It said 7,467 patients had been waiting more than a year for a heart procedure - 267 times higher than before the pandemic.

At the same time, the average ambulance response time for a suspected heart attack has risen to 48 minutes in England against a target of 18 minutes, according to the latest NHS figures.

The BHF said difficulty accessing face-to-face GP and hospital care may have also contributed to the rise.

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Source: BBC News, 3 November 2022


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