Almost 100,000 people with serious heart problems, including some “living on borrowed time”, are enduring long waits for potentially life-saving NHS care because hospitals are so busy.
Some of them are in such poor health they will have a heart attack and die as a consequence of facing such “dangerous” long delays, the British Heart Foundation has warned.
The number of patients in England being forced to wait more than the supposed maximum 18 weeks for cardiac treatment has trebled since Covid-19 struck, from 32,186 in February 2020 to an unprecedented 96,321, a BHF analysis of published NHS England data shows.
They are waiting for procedures such as having a stent or balloon inserted to reopen a blocked artery, a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator fitted, or open heart surgery, including bypasses or valve replacement operations. Others urgently need to have an echocardiogram, CT or MRI scan to help doctors decide on treatment.
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, a consultant cardiologist who is also the BHF’s associate medical director, said: “Cardiac care can’t wait. Without timely treatment, heart patients may be living on borrowed time.”
“Tens of thousands of people feel in limbo, waiting many months or even years for cardiac surgery, invasive heart procedures or important diagnostic tests. During this time they could quite quickly become much sicker, and tragically some could even die before they can receive the heart care they so desperately need,” she added.
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Source: The Guardian, 16 June 2022