BCS & BCIS Joint statement regarding cardiology services during COVID-19

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BCS Announcement

The British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) together with the British Cardiovascular Interventional Society (BSH) released a joint statement today with regards to cardiology services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Signed by Prof Simon Ray, President of the BCS and Prof Nick Curzen, President of BCIS, the statement provides commentary on the latest NHS England specialty guidance on the provision of cardiology services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance, published by NHS England today, was created with the input and endorsement of BCS & BCIS.

The commentary, shared with members of both organisations said;

"There is no doubt that providing care for infected patients is going to dominate our working lives for the next few weeks and quite possibly, considerably longer. Accepting this, it is important to bear in mind that while there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 there are life threatening cardiac conditions which cardiologists do know how to treat and for which we have well organised and effective care pathways. We must not lose sight of this fact in the effort to do everything possible for patients severely ill from viral infection."

Providing the example of PPCI for STEMI as a case in point. It said:

"We have a national PPCI program because there is very strong evidence that it is a more effective treatment than thrombolysis. Patients undergoing PPCI via the radial approach have significantly higher rates of reperfusion, better left ventricular function, fewer complications and are more likely to have a short, uncomplicated hospital stay. The short term investment in getting that patient to a catheter lab without delay is repaid rapidly and permanently.

It went on to say;

By contrast, giving thrombolysis may seem lower risk, but the clinical dilemmas raised in those (?25%) who fail thrombolysis, in terms of whether they then do go to the cath lab, but also the higher rates of heart failure etc, mean that this is not necessarily an easier option.

The view of the BCS and BCIS is that:

..."PPCI must remain the standard of care for STEMI during the pandemic and that strenuous efforts need to be made to made to preserve PPCI services and to make them as efficient and as effective as possible. There are likely to be situations where it will prove impossible to provide timely PPCI and a patient needs to be thrombolysed but this should not be a default response and remain the exception rather than the rule."

The statement ended by acknowledging the critical importance of having appropriate PPE available for cath lab staff, and reassured members that both organisations are actively lobbying about this on behalf of members.

The BCS and BCIS  recognise the significant challenges ahead and thank all members for your tireless and vital work caring and treating patients and the public, now and in the difficult, stressful months to come.

Read the full statement here.

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