Cardiac rehabilitation programmes are suffering from chronic staff shortages, the British Heart Foundation has warned.
The 2008 National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation could not find one programme in the UK that met the minimum recommended staffing levels. The alarming shortfall is attributed to significant under-funding in 55% of the programmes.
Results of the BHF study revealed that the average patient only receives 79% of recommended nursing time, 36% of physiotherapy time and just 16% of the professional dietetic support required to meet health service guidelines.
Mike Knapton, director of prevention and care at the BHF, said he was upset that a vital, life-saving service such as cardiac rehabilitation was being overlooked.
‘The health service needs to give cardiac rehabilitation the same priority they give to treating people with acute heart attacks,’ he said.
By offering medical and lifestyle advice, cardiac rehabilitation gives patients a 26% greater survival chance in the five years following diagnosis, the charity says.