Joint pioneering AF initiative to bring together primary and secondary care

Posted on 19 November 2018 (Permalink)

West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) is looking for Clinical Commissioning Groups and clinical experts to join a pioneering stroke prevention initiative that brings together primary and secondary care.

The WMAHSN is working with a pan-industry group of stakeholders - the Clinical Network, Public Health England and the British Heart Foundation – to devise a plan to provide practical upskilling workshops in Atrial Fibrillation (AF) to GPs, nurses and pharmacists across the West Midlands.

The workshops will be known as IMpulse-AF.

AF is a common abnormal heart rhythm that happens when electrical impulses fire off from different places in the atria (the top chambers of the heart) in a disorganised way. This causes the atria to twitch, and is felt as an irregular heartbeat or pulse.

Dr Alex Meyer, WMAHSN Clinical Lead for the AF programme explained: “This is an excellent opportunity for primary care and secondary care to come together to reduce the risk of stroke.

“For our campaign to be successful, we need CCGs to work with us to identify how we can deliver AF workshops to get maximum impact by getting the right people to attend. This may be achieved by agreeing to make the workshops part of the engagement or education offer for the practices within CCGs. It would also be helpful to have advice on appropriate venues for the workshops.

“We also need clinical experts - enthusiastic local experts in AF with experience of providing education to peers to facilitate these workshops in pairs using the content we provide as a template.”

The content of the IMpulse-AF workshops will be uniform throughout the region but the sessions will be delivered by local experts in order to develop peer networks and support mechanisms. 

WMAHSN’s AF campaign

It is estimated that there are currently 38,500 people across the region with either undetected AF or who aren’t receiving optimal treatment. AF can cause stroke if not detected and treated appropriately, usually through blood-thinning (anti-coagulation) medication to prevent clots that lead to stroke.

The work is part of a national programme supported by the AHSN Network, a collective of 15 regional AHSNs. It aims to:  detect more cases of AF, protect patients with appropriate support and treatment and perfect the quality of therapy by ensuring that patients are monitored and followed up appropriately.

This year the WMAHSN has distributed over 500 new devices including mobile electrocardiogram (ECG) units to GP practices, pharmacies and NHS community clinics across the region. The devices detect irregular heart rhythms quickly and easily, enabling NHS staff to refer any patients with irregular heart rhythms for follow up, as they could be at risk of severe stroke.

WMAHSN has also worked with clinicians and other experts to set out a consistent pathway to aid primary care and help improve patient outcomes. Published in October, the document offers a guide for practitioners on what to do should they identify a patient with Atrial Fibrillation and has been approved by NHS England's Clinical Network Cardiovascular Expert Advisory Group and Public Health England.

Find out more

You can find out more about AF and the work WMAHSN is doing by watching this short video.

For more information on IMpulse-AF, to register your interest, or to request an AF business case for your CCG, please contact: