Scottish Government heart disease plan branded 'missed opportunity' by charities

Heart disease charities have accused the Scottish Government of ‘missing an opportunity’ to transform care with its five-year heart disease action plan published on Tuesday.

Scottish Government public health and sport minister Mairi Gougeon
Scottish Government public health and sport minister Mairi Gougeon

The plan includes increased emotional and psychological support, addressing risk factors including high blood pressure, and reducing variation in access to diagnosis and treatment.

But the British Heart Foundation said it was “disappointed” to see no funding commitments included in the plan, and called for heart disease to be made an “urgent priority” for investment.

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Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland warned that the NHS will suffer under “extreme pressure” unless there is more urgency in integrating the work of the heath service and charities.

The charity also criticised the Scottish Government plan for a lack of dates for delivery and promises of funding.

"While we welcome the Scottish Government’s Heart Disease Action Plan, we are disappointed that no funding commitments have been given to deliver it,” said James Jopling, head of BHF Scotland.

"Just £1 million has been invested in the current heart disease strategy since its launch almost seven years ago.

"Heart and circulatory diseases cause the deaths of around 50 people in Scotland each day and around 700,000 people are living in Scotland with the daily burden of these conditions. These patients and their families deserve more.”

Chief Executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Jane-Claire Judson said the Scottish Government must link up social care services and support from charities.

"People are leaving hospital right now scared and alone – and they don’t know where to turn. It’s unclear how this plan really changes that in the months and years ahead,” she said.

“There are no dates for delivery and no promises of funding. It’s a missed opportunity to deliver the transformation in care people badly need.

“We need to see tangible commitments to a joined-up approach between NHS, Social Care services and the third sector. The absence of a clear commitment to initiatives like our Hospital to Home service is a missed opportunity to improve patient care and reduce pressures on the health service.

"It has been seven years since the last plan and we can’t wait another seven years to address this significant gap.”

The plan will also set up a Scottish Cardiac Unit, which will focus on the use of data to improve cardiac services.

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Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon said at the publication of the plan: “Scotland provides some of the best heart care in the world but we continue to strive to do more to support those living with heart disease to live well.

“The pandemic has brought the need for action to improve heart disease services in Scotland into even sharper focus and I welcome this plan which shapes our future vision of services.

"As the plan is taken forward it will necessitate a shift in focus and spending from our NHS at both primary and acute levels. Our aim is start to shape the value of this additional investment as we examine the detailed implementation of the proposals on the ground.”

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