Communication skills and staff training form part of new proposals to improve the care given to patients with lifelong heart problems by the NHS in England.
NHS England has launched a consultation on standards intended to drive up the quality of care for children and adults with congenital heart disease.
The standards describe how services should be organised and delivered to achieve the highest quality for patients, requiring specialist hospitals to work together within regions and across the country to improve care.
“We know there are areas for improvement, and we want consistent services of the highest quality”
For the first time, the draft standards cover every part of the patient’s life from early diagnosis in the womb, through childhood, adolescence, adult life, planning a family and onwards.
The standards cover 13 areas including: communication with patients and their families; staff and skills needed in teams; transition for children moving between child and adult services; working with other healthcare services patients might need; and support for patients and their families when their disease is not responsive to treatment.
They were developed with patient representatives, children and young people and clinical staff from specialist surgical centres. They were then considered by an expert clinical advisory panel.
A roadshow of drop-in events will be held across the country, where people will be able to find out more about the draft standards and can complete a consultation response if they wish.
Following consultation and agreement of the final standards, they will be written into service specifications.
Dr Jackie Cornish, national clinical director for children, young people and transition to adulthood at NHS England, said: “Congenital heart disease services in this country already provide good, safe care, with high survival rates after surgery.
“But we know there are areas for improvement, and we want consistent services of the highest quality for all our patients throughout their lives, wherever they live,” she said.
Professor Huon Gray, national clinical director for heart disease at NHS England, added: “It is absolutely crucial we get this right for patients and we want to hear what people think. This is not a done deal, and everyone has the opportunity to give their feedback on the standards.”
- The consultation document, new draft standards and service specifications are available on the NHS England website