Philip Davies MP backs life-saving campaign at Westminster

Nation's heart charity calls for end to postcode lottery for cardiac rehab

Philip Davies MP today backed a British Heart Foundation (BHF) campaign to improve access to cardiac rehabilitation, an inexpensive treatment which is proven to save lives.

Supporting the National Campaign for Cardiac Rehabilitation Philip met with protestors including heart patients, doctors, and nurses at the Houses of Parliament 5 December 2007, to hear their concerns about the lack of adequate cardiac rehab services.

Earlier this year a BHF audit revealed a postcode lottery for treatment, where 60% of those who need cardiac rehabilitation do not have access to it (1). This is despite the fact that it offers patients a 26% greater chance of surviving in the five years following the diagnosis of heart conditions.

Protestors marched with placards and gathered for a photo wearing over-sized sale tags around their necks denoting £600, which is how much it costs to give a patient the minimum level of cardiac rehabilitation in the UK.

Philip today said: "I saw how passionately patients feel about cardiac rehabilitation when I was at the political protest. Nearly 2.6 million people in the UK are living with heart disease so local health services need to look seriously at the future of this vital, life-saving treatment."

Cardiac rehabilitation involves getting patients on the road to recovery by consulting with nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, psychologists and occupational therapists. These professionals offer advice and support for patients and their families. It teaches individuals about their conditions so they can better manage and adapt to their sometimes unexpected and frightening diagnosis.

Professor Bob Lewin at the BHF Cardiac Care and Education Research Group said: "Despite the Government saying it's committed to helping people self-manage long-term conditions and despite saying it needs to rein in the cost of medical interventions and drugs, it consistently under-funds cardiac rehab. This is a service that ticks all these boxes."

The National Campaign for Cardiac Rehabilitation calls for:
- every heart patient who is suitable and wishes to take part to be offered a rehabilitation programme
- patients to be offered alternative methods, such as home-based rehabilitation, if they prefer not to take part in a group programme or attend hospital as an outpatient
- efforts be made to ensure that rehabilitation programmes meet the needs of under-represented groups, particularly ethnic minorities and women
- each programme to meet the minimum standards set out by the British Association for Cardiac Rehabilitation
- standards to be monitored through the National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation