BCS Position Statement: Provision of care during COVID-19

Publish date:
BCS Announcement

The British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) released a statement today regarding provision of care by cardiologists during the COVID-19 pandemic with specific reference to non general internal medicine (GIM).

Signed by Prof Simon Ray, President of the BCS and Dr Andrew Archbold, BCS Vice President of Clinical Standards, the statement outlines how in common with other specialties, cardiology services have been dramatically affected by the pandemic. With all non-emergency procedures and outpatient clinic appointments typically being cancelled to protect patients from viral infection and to free-up staff for redeployment to front-line, COVID-facing services.

The statement goes on to describe how the COVID-19 pandemic has placed immense pressure upon the national health service (NHS) as well as acknowleging the government’s aims throughout to save lives and to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. With front-line hospital (and other services) being completely re-organised in order to cope with the surge in cases which was correctly forecast to occur in the UK in March.

'In common with other specialties, cardiology services have been dramatically affected by the pandemic.'

As it seems likely that undiagnosed, potentially treatable, cardiovascular disease contributed to the large excess of deaths during the COVID pandemicthe BCS believes cardiologists will, therefore, play an important role in this phase of the health crisis as the backlog in patients who require outpatient cardiac assessment, diagnostic cardiac imaging, percutaneous coronary and structural heart disease procedures, and arrhythmia management is addressed. In some cases, this will require more cardiology resource than prior to the COVID pandemic.

Various different models for covering the unselected medical take and for providing in-patient care have been used, but many of them have involved cardiologists (and doctors from other specialties) without accreditation in general internal medicine (GIM) or who have not practised in the field of GIM for many years providing care for GIM patients. In the midst of a crisis, this was the appropriate response from the medical community.

The British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) is proud of the way its members have responded to the crisis, and has been inspired by the willingness of health care professionals as a whole to work flexibly with colleagues to maintain emergency services and to provide care for COVID patients.

The view of the BCS is that...'cardiologists who are not accredited in GIM or who did not look after GIM patients before the introduction of COVID crisis work patterns should now relinquish care for non-cardiac patients so that they are not working outside their area of expertise, etc. By contrast, patients whose primary problem is cardiovascular in aetiology should be under the care of a cardiologist.'

Read the full statement here.