Groundbreaking NHS initiative has a significant impact on reducing strokes in Sandwell and West Birmingham

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An innovative NHS initiative has helped to reduce the number of strokes in Sandwell and West Birmingham by identifying over 1,000 people with Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

AF is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. One in four people will develop AF, which affects an estimated 1.5 million across the UK and in excess of 16 million worldwide. AF is the single most relevant risk factor for stroke, increasing a person’s risk of having a stroke by five times and being responsible for at least 20% of all ischaemic strokes. Ischaemic strokes are the most common type of stroke, which occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of bold and oxygen to the brain. Strokes related to atrial fibrillation are more likely to cause some form of disability, or even to lead to death.

Sandwell and West Birmingham has the lowest number of people diagnosed with AF in England, which means that, as these people don’t receive the appropriate treatment, there is a higher risk of them having a stroke. It is estimated that there are 4,331 people with undiagnosed atrial fibrillation in Sandwell and West Birmingham

The Primary Care Commissioning Framework (PCCF) scheme was launched in 2016 by NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in partnership with local GP practices to improve quality and health outcomes for patients. The scheme represents a joint pledge by practices and the CCG to work together to improve and deliver consistent and fair services for patients.

The PCCF scheme has resulted in a marked increase in the number of people identified with AF, with 1,202 people added to the AF registers in GP practices over the past year. A total of 78 out of 86 GP practices increased their AF registers by 10% and evidence shows that as many as 16 strokes would have been prevented through the PCCF scheme.

Dr Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG said:

"AF is a significant risk factor for stroke and estimates showed that prior to the launch of the PCCF scheme there were 5,592 people with AF that remained undiagnosed. Thanks to this scheme, over a thousand people have now been diagnosed and are now receiving treatment.

"High quality primary care is crucial for improving outcomes and our GP practices are achieving significant successes by working effectively together through the PCCF initiative. The scheme offers a consistent and fair set of initiatives for the whole population that is improving health and wellbeing."

An animated You Tube video on the benefits of the PCCF scheme and the results that have been achieved for patients is available to watch at