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Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Heart patients 'not consulted'
Heart patient
Many heart patients are unhappy with care
Many heart patients say that doctors fail to consult them over their care or to properly explain their treatment.

A national NHS survey of patients treated in hospital for heart disease also found that one in three patients requiring non-urgent care had to wait more than six months for hospital admission.

The survey found that nearly one in five (18%) felt they were not sufficiently involved in decisions about their care.

The NHS must listen to patients and give them a stronger voice

Gisela Stuart, Health Minister

Patients said doctors talked about them as if they are not there, did not tell them what is going on and did not consult them about their treatment.

Ministers said the results of the survey showed doctors must listen to patients and involve them more.

The poll, of more than 80,000 coronary heart disease sufferers in England, found that the most dissatisfied patients were those under 55.

The survey also found:

  • one in five of all patients said they rarely or only sometimes understood the answers doctors gave to their questions
  • more than a quarter were not even told the name of the doctor in charge of their case
  • more than a fifth said there had been occasions when doctors or nurses had talked about them as though they were not present
  • 20% of people who had fears about their condition felt unable to talk to doctors about their worries
The UK has one of the worst records in Europe in the treatment and prevention of heart disease, even though it accounts for more deaths than any other disease.

Last month the Government launched a National Service Framework and appointed a heart tsar charged with driving up standards.

Gisela Stuart
Gisela Stuart called for reform
In addition, six Modernisation Action Teams has been set up to develop a National Plan for the NHS.

One of the teams will focus on patient rights and care.

Health Minister Gisela Stuart said: "The initial results of this survey show that the NHS must listen to patients and give them a stronger voice.

"The national plan to modernise the NHS will include proposals to increase the information we provide to patients and the public, improve patient involvement in their care and support public involvement in the development of health policy."

A spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said good communication and joint decision making was a critical part of effective patient care.

"We are glad to see this is an issue the NHS is taking seriously.

"Providing heart patients and their families with relevant information that can help them to make decisions about their diagnosis and treatment is a key part of the BHF work."

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See also:

21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
Heart disease
06 Mar 00 | Health
Heart pledge: the reaction
14 Mar 00 | Health
NHS heart operations row
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