Headlines: November 23rd, 1998

Proposals for rigorous new national standards for quality and consistency in the treatment of heart disease have been announced by the Health Department.The proposed standards are outlined in the Emerging Findings Report from the Expert ReferenceGroup which is drawing up the new National Service Framework on coronary heart disease.

The Framework will set out action to be taken across the board by the NHS to cut deaths and illnesses from this major killer.

National Service Frameworks are the next step in a wide-ranging programme of action set out in The New NHS White Paper and Our Healthier Nation public health Green Paper to improve health.

Health Minister Baroness Hayman said: “The National Service Framework will set down tough quality standards that will have to be met across the NHS. In all parts of the country the NHS will be required to organise its services to ensure the best quality and the fairest access.

Among the experts’ initial ideas for the standards, to be developed into a full Framework document to next spring are that possible heart attack victims should receive treatment within eight minutes of calling 999.

They are suggesting greater help and advice for people who want to stop smoking and that GPs and primary health care teams should aim to identify all people with cardiovascular disease and offer them advice and treatment to reduce their risks.

Each of these areas will contain a number of standards and targets, and ways of measuring success, to be set out in the forthcoming Framework.

Baroness Hayman has also just announced that a further 68 million pounds is to be ploughed into hospital and GP research into the long term effects of primary care treatment for depression, ways to reduce falls and fall-related injuries in the elderly and the management of angina. The total budget is now more than four hundred thousand pounds.