Local GPs winning the fight against strokes

22 November 2018

Groundbreaking work by GPs in Redbridge treating stroke patients has been recognised with an award. 

The GPs have worked on identifying patients with irregular and abnormally fast heart rates, which increase the risk of stroke, and making sure they are put on the right medicines. 

As a result, Redbridge has seen the biggest increase in London in the number of high-risk atrial fibrillation (AF) patients being treated with anticoagulant medication (that help prevent blood clots). AF is a common heart condition that increases risk of stroke. 

In the long term, this should see a reduction in the number of strokes in Redbridge. 

This work has been recognised at both the Anticoagulation Achievement Awards and as an AF Association Healthcare Pioneer, hosted in parliament, and is now being rolled out in London and nationally by other NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). 

Redbridge GP, Dr Shabana Ali, who led the work, said: “We identified an opportunity to reduce strokes caused by atrial fibrillation in our patients and worked smartly to achieve it. 

“The improvement in patients being medicated in a year is significant and it is hugely satisfying for this to be recognised at the Anticoagulation Achievement Awards. 

“Our work can easily be replicated in managing other long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes.” 

Dr Ali, from the Southdene Surgery in South Woodford, worked with Clinical Pharmacist Jagjot Chahal from Barts Health to look at why Redbridge had a higher than national average proportion of people at risk of stroke. 

The team also included a consultant cardiologist, consultant haematologist, a specialist haematology pharmacist and GP coordinator who pulled together the expertise across primary care, secondary care and pharmacy. 

This mix of expertise was commended by NICE and the Anticoagulation Achievement Awards panel as it meant they could advise GPs on detecting undiagnosed AF and provide a forum where GPs could discuss patients and get expert advice in managing the condition. 

This included specialist pharmaceutical advice on the best and most effective drugs available and providing GPs with new technology, such as portable ECG machines that can be used with a smart phone app. 

They also worked to avoid delays as a result of referrals into hospital by supporting anticoagulation initiation by GPs and treating patients closer to home.