Managing End Stage Heart Failure

14th January 2020

The Southern Trust has hosted a conference on managing end stage heart failure for GPs and other health and social care professionals from across the area.  Organised by the Trust’s Specialist Palliative Care and Heart Failure teams, the event aimed to raise awareness of recognising and addressing the palliative care needs of patients with end stage heart failure.Dr Gerry Millar, Macmillan GP Facilitator for Cancer and Palliative Care for the Trust who Chaired the event explains:

“In Northern Ireland around 18,300 patients have a known diagnosis of heart failure and with our continually increasing older population, this number is expected to rise.

“Sadly, less than half of those who develop heart failure will survive beyond five years after diagnosis, which is a poorer life expectancy than many cancers, so it is really important that health and social care staff are well equipped to provide quality palliative – or end of life – care for this growing group of patients.”

Speaking at the event, Dr Patricia Campbell, Consultant Cardiologist and Heart Failure Clinical Lead for the Trust highlighted the need for palliative care to begin earlier in the patient’s journey; effective symptom management using a range of disciplines; and taking a person-centred approach when making decisions about treatment.

Both Anne McNulty and Joanne Blair, Heart Failure Clinical Nurse Specialists along with JulieAnne Prideaux, Clinical Physiologist presented updated Trust guidance on managing implantable cardiac devices in patients towards the end of life.

Claire Irwin, Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Pharmacist gave an overview of the new regional symptom management guidance for adults with heart failure at end of life.

Craig Moore from the British Heart Foundation endorsed the new regional guidance and highlighted a new tool kit to support staff when caring for patients with heart failure towards the end of life. The tool kit was developed by a range of clinicians from across all five Health and Social Care Trusts, including cardiology, palliative care, general practice and community nursing and can be found here.

Closing the event Dr Millar added: “I would like to thank our speakers for sharing their expertise and innovative thinking and to our audience of health and social care staff who have given up their evening during such a busy time to make sure that their patients can experience the best quality of life as their heart failure progresses.”