26 Jul 2018
Firefighters add heart checks to Safe and Well visits with expansion of innovative project
Firefighters in Eastern Cheshire will soon be adding potentially life-saving heart checks to their Safe and Well visits following the expansion of an innovative project.
Health Innovation Manchester, an Academic Health Science System supporting the implementation of health innovations, is working in partnership with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) and NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to improve the detection of atrial fibrillation in the community.
Health Innovation Manchester has funded eight MyDiagnosticks, mobile electro-cardiograph (ECG) screening tools, which firefighters in Eastern Cheshire can use to carry out checks for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that is hard to detect and is a common contributing factor for stroke.
From February 2017 to March 2018, CFRS completed over 47,700 Safe and Well visits to the county’s residents over 65 or considered at particular risk, including 16,700 in the Cheshire East local authority area.
Currently, people receiving a Safe and Well visit are given advice and referred into service for help and assistance for slips, trips and falls, bowel cancer screening awareness, stopping smoking and alcohol reduction, and affordable warmth.
Atrial fibrillation advice was first trialled in visits in Halton before being expanded to Safe and Well Visits in the South Cheshire, Vale Royal and West Cheshire CCG areas. More than 1,800 atrial fibrillation screenings have been carried out, with 76 people identified as having an irregular heart rate and signposted to see their GP.
From 1 April 2018 to 30 June 2018, CFRS completed a further 10,000 Safe and Well visits to people across Cheshire. This included a further 1025 people screened for atrial fibrillation, with 60 people identified with having an irregular heart rate and signposted to see their GP.
The new devices will now enable firefighters to expand the heart checks to the Eastern Cheshire CCG area.
Further training will see crews being given information on the causes of atrial fibrillation and taught how to use the MyDiagnostick. A firefighter will carry out a simple ECG test to assess whether the householder has an irregular heartbeat. Anyone who tests positive is given a leaflet to explain they have been screened for atrial fibrillation by a trained firefighter, given basic information about what it means and advised to make an urgent GP appointment.
More than 5,000 people in Eastern Cheshire are thought to have atrial fibrillation with over 1,200 unaware they have irregular heart rhythms.
Early detection and monitoring can pave the way for better treatment for people with atrial fibrillation including access to highly-effective treatments to prevent strokes.
Hakeel Qureshi, Project Manager at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “These robust devices will allow firefighters to undertake a quick and easy, mobile ECG test while they visit people at home in Eastern Cheshire and urge those with any irregularities to make an urgent appointment with their doctor to be checked.
“The Safe and Well visits offered by Cheshire FRS are the perfect opportunity to reach more people in the community, identify those with an irregular heart rhythm and ensure they are given advice before the problem becomes much larger or potentially life-threatening.
“We hope the devices will be regularly used to detect atrial fibrillation and become a useful product in preventing strokes and saving lives.
“Health Innovation Manchester is committed to championing new innovations and medical technologies in order to make a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of people in Greater Manchester and Cheshire East.”
Dr Paul Bowen, Eastern Cheshire CCG clinical chair and GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton said: “We applaud this latest addition to the innovative Safe and Well service.
“The use of MyDiagnosticks will help achieve the collective aim of the CCG and its partners to inspire better health and wellbeing through the provision of community-based, person-centred services that also reduce avoidable demand on urgent and emergency care.
“I’ve no doubt that screening for AF in people’s homes will reduce the incidence of strokes in Eastern Cheshire.”
Nick Evans, Head of Prevention at Cheshire FRS said: “We are delighted to add screening for atrial fibrillation to our Safe and Well checks in the Eastern Cheshire CCG area. This work builds upon the successful work we are delivering in Halton CCG, West Cheshire CCG, South Cheshire CCG and Vale Royal CCG areas.
“This partnership between health and fire is an excellent example of the public sector joining up and using our resources effectively and efficiently for the people we serve in Cheshire East and the rest of the County.”
More than 23,000 people in Greater Manchester and Cheshire East are thought to be unaware they have irregular heart rhythms.
Across Greater Manchester and Cheshire East, the Health Innovation Manchester Healthy Hearts programme aims to identify more than 10,000 new cases of irregular heart rhythms over two years and support the prevention of 300 strokes.