Advanced heart failure patients have a poor quality of life and high symptom burden; often equivalent to patients with metastatic cancer. The expanding non-cancer remit of palliative care has provided an ideal opportunity to explore ways to address the holistic needs of this vulnerable group of patients. However, although there are some published service designs with improved outcomes, there is no consensus as to the best approach for addressing the needs of these patients or clear thinking on which models of care may be able to offer cost improvements, whilst concurrently providing a good patient experience.
In early 2016, a heart failure supportive care co-speciality pathway was initiated in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board which has shown significant value-based improvements by reducing hospital bed days in the last 1-2 years of life, whilst simultaneously demonstrating positive patient reported outcomes and experience.
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Dr Clea Atkinson
Consultant in Palliative and Supportive Care & Bevan Commission Fellow, Velindre University NHS Trust and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Dr Clea Atkinson qualified in 1995 from Southampton University. After being Medical Director at St Ann’s Hospice, Gwent for almost 10 years, she became Palliative and Supportive Care Consultant in University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff in 2015. She is also Honorary Senior Lecturer for Cardiff University and a holds a Bevan Commission Fellowship.
She has a special interest in development of supportive care pathways for advanced non-malignant conditions and in particular provision of palliative care in advanced heart failure, for which she was a finalist in the NHS Wales Awards and winner in the MediWales award for innovation within the NHS in 2019.