Increased prescribing of blood-thinning medication has prevented almost 20 extra strokes across Fylde and Wyre this year – a saving of more than £200,000 to the local NHS.

Health bosses at NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have been busy trying to reduce the number of strokes suffered by patients who have atrial fibrillation (AF) – a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

Patients with AF are five times more likely to suffer a stroke, often the most severe and most life-threatening form of stroke.

The CCG’s team has spent the past 12 months working with GP practices across the area, identifying those patients most at risk of strokes, raising awareness of AF and working with pharmacists to promote the need to use anticoagulants – drugs that prevent the clotting of blood which can lead to a stroke.

And thanks to this increased level of prescribing, the number of strokes prevented over the next 12 months has risen from 85 last year to more than 100.

Thornton GP Dr Felicity Guest, clinical lead for prescribing at Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “People who live with AF are far more likely to suffer a stroke, and often these strokes are very serious. People with AF are twice as likely to die from a stroke.

“In Fylde and Wyre we have an elderly population and quite a high prevalence of AF, and our data showed there were improvements to be made in this area.

“Some of our GPs were unsure about prescribing blood-thinning medications to frail and elderly patients but through this extensive work with our local practices we were able to start changing this attitude.

“We have now written to more than 300 patients in Fylde and Wyre to explain how they could benefit from blood-thinners and prescribing of these medications is on the increase.

“Our work in this area will continue as we do all we can to improve the health and wellbeing of our local population.

“From a health service perspective, this also makes a great deal of sense due to the amount of money we can save by having to treat fewer stroke patients. This money can then be invested in schemes to improve the health of our patients, such as our New Models of Care.”

Every stroke costs the NHS between £9,500 and £14,000, and patients with AF are more likely to endure a lengthy stay in hospital, develop a disability or suffer further strokes.

Last year, Fylde and Wyre CCG urged patients to ‘know your pulse’ during AF Aware Week in November.

The campaign was thought necessary as, although 1.5million people live with AF, awareness of the chronic condition remains low.

Dr Guest said: “If you are feeling unwell and your pulse seems to be either racing or slow some or most of the time, or your pulse feels irregular, even if you do not feel unwell, then please seek further advice from your GP.”


Notes:

  • NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the organisation responsible for planning and buying health services in the area to meet patients’ needs. This is known as ‘commissioning’.
  • Led by family doctors (GPs), the CCG currently serves a population of 152,000 people across approximately 320 sq km of coast and countryside. The majority live in the urban towns of Fleetwood, Thornton, Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Lytham St Annes, but a significant proportion live in rural villages.
  • The CCG receives a set amount of money from the government and is committed to spending this wisely for the benefit of local people.
  • Giving you more choice is a priority of the modern NHS. More information is available at fyldeandwyreccg.nhs.uk/choice
  • The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient: nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/NHSConstitution/Pages/Overview.aspx
  • There are many ways to get involved in health service developments, including joining our Influence membership scheme or your practice’s patient participation group.