Pioneering Southwark ‘virtual clinics’ reduce strokes in high-risk patients by a quarter

Josh Salisbury (26 February, 2019)

The scheme has seen strokes in high-risk patients fall by 25 per cent against a national average of just 3 per cent

28076The project which saw atrial fibrillation strokes drop by a quarter saw pharmacists highly commended at an awards ceremony last year

Pioneering ‘virtual clinics’ in Southwark have helped the reduce strokes in high-risk patients by 25 per cent, against just a 3 per cent national reduction.

The project, a collaboration between the CCG and King’s College Hospital, aimed to improve blood clots prevention relating to atrial fibrillation – a condition which causes irregular heart rates.

Over a year, the scheme identified those at highest risk of strokes across Southwark and Lambeth by reviewing 1,500 patients who had atrial fibrillation but weren’t getting blood clot prevention treatments.

Specialist pharmacist ‘virtual clinics’ identified patients who would most benefit from treatment, discussed options with them and produced personalised plans for each of them.

Pharmacist Tara Patel (left), local GP Dr Aparna Babu (centre) and pharmacist Ann-Dora Kwame

Helen Williams, Consultant Pharmacist for cardiovascular disease at NHS Southwark CCG, said: “It was widely recognised, both locally and nationally, that a significant number of stroke patients were not receiving anticoagulation treatment, despite being known to have atrial fibrillation.

“Working with health and care partners across Lambeth and Southwark, our pharmacist-led virtual health clinics have helped ensure that an additional 1,200 people with AF are receiving the blood thinning treatment – with a consequent reduction of 25% in the number of AF-related strokes.”

The impressive results now mean the model is being rolled out to other areas in south London – and has even seen the clinical commissioning group being highly commended at an awards ceremony last year.

“The programme is an excellent example of how colleagues from across the NHS can work collaboratively to deliver improved health outcomes for local patients, and I’m delighted that as a result of its success, the model has been rolled out to other areas – with similarly positive outcomes,” said Ms Williams.

‘Virtual clinics’ bring together GP practice staff with local specialists to discuss how they can improve care – for instance with a pharmacist.

A full review of the results is published by Public Health England.


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