More than a quarter of heart failure patients in Ireland (26.9%) feel abandoned after being discharged from hospital, new data showed
And three quarters say their psychological needs to help them cope with the chronic disease are not being met, according to the Irish Heart Foundation research.
The charity is met a delegation of TDs and Senators in Leinster House on Tuesday (June 27th) to express alarm over the “persistent under-prioritisation in care” – as one patient claims many feel invisible.
‘The needs of heart failure patients in Ireland’ survey paints a grim picture of post-hospital care. It reveals that 74% said their psychological support needs are not being met, half are failing to get the cardiac rehabilitation they need, while almost 40% of working age patients have neither a medical card nor GP visit card.
“Heart failure affects people of all ages and stages of life in Ireland, a large proportion of whom can be of working age, but unable to work or having to work part time,” said Clare-based Pauline O’Shea, 50, who was diagnosed 11 years ago.
“People in my situation have been invisible and we need to be recognised; there are thousands like me, who went from a two income household, to one, but still face mortgages, bills and medical costs and have dependants to support.
“The least we deserve is a medical card once diagnosed with heart failure.”
Heart failure occurs when the organ stops working as well as it should and finds it more difficult to pump blood around the body efficiently. There are more than 10,000 new cases in Ireland every year and at least 90,000 people are living with the condition.
Over a third (36%) experience a five-year mortality, higher than for most cancers and it accounts for an estimated 7% of all in-patient bed days in Irish hospitals.
The Irish Heart Foundation will tell politicians it wants action on five key areas:
*A national Heart Failure Registry equipping health service planners with the information to plan future services and help cut excessive mortality and hospital readmission rates;
* Medical cards for all heart failure patients, removal of prescription charges and an assessment of the economic impact of the condition on patients;
* Expansion of services to tackle the psychological impact of the disease – currently available in just four hospitals nationwide;
* Investment in practical, social and emotional supports in the community that reduce readmissions and improve quality of life;
*Full access for all patients to cardiac rehabilitation.
“Awareness and understanding of the condition among both the public and policymakers is low,” said Dr Angie Brown, Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director with the Irish Heart Foundation.
“This is contributing to a persistent, long-term under-prioritisation of heart failure. Although a lot has been achieved, more needs to be done. Our survey of almost 200 heart failure patients reveals a population of all ages, all walks of life and from throughout the country who are struggling amid a variety of unmet needs.”
TD and Oireachtas Health Committee member, John Lahart, who invited the charity to share its report with TDs and Senators, said: “We need to see significant changes in policy and service provision, and the reinstatement of a Deputy CMO role within the Department of Health to mirror their HSE clinical counterpart.”