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Wide variation in the care of patients following heart attacks

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Improvements to the fitness to practice process aim to reduce stress for doctors going through investigations

A report has recently been released which has revealed a large variation in the use of life-saving stents in English hospitals. The ten year study shows that patients were twice as likely to receive stents at hospitals with a seven-day service and 30 per cent more likely to receive them in hospitals with more than five cardiologists.

The use of emergency stenting has increased dramatically during the period of the study rising from 0.1 per cent in 2003 to 86 per cent in 2013, however, their use still depends on the hospital a patient attends. The stent is used to keep arteries open in patients who have suffered from a ST-elevation myocardial infarction, which account for 25-40 per cent of all heart attacks in Europe.

Patients who receive a stent are 37 per cent less likely to die than those that are treated with medication alone and it is therefore vital that the procedure can be offered to eligible patients no matter the time of day or the hospital they attend. What is obvious, however, is that all NHS Trusts need the resources, staffing and expertise to be able to provide this life-saving procedure around the clock.     

By Gemma Crompton, clinical negligence team