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Vygon and University Hospital of Wales in heart patient partnership

Collaboration has created a method for heart failure patients to receive at-home treatment.

Medical device company, Vygon, and the University Hospital of Wales have joined forces to deliver palliative at-home treatment for advanced heart failure patients in Wales. It is now hoped that the system can be rolled out nationally.

During the past six years, a team at the University Hospital of Wales has championed the offering of infusions at home for suitable heart failure patients who are reaching the end of life. This has been largely thanks to support from district nurses who manage daily treatments via 24-hour syringe drivers.

The innovative model was used in roughly 10-15% of cases, and while it achieved its aims – to provide patients with their preferred place of care and reduce hospital admissions – the solution was, historically, resource-intensive and expensive.

A 12-month pilot, however, using Vygon’s Accufuser elastomeric pump, has allowed continuous seven-day infusion to replace the daily version.

This portable elastomeric infusion pump is designed for the accurate delivery of continuous flow infusions over a sustained period and was successfully used on patients after being assessed and produced by the hospital pharmacy.

During the last year, 12 patients in Wales have been trialling the system, with the hospital calculating savings of over £1,500, and a 104-hour reduction of nurse time per patient. Furthermore, the trial also positively impacted the carbon footprint of the community nursing team, due to fewer trips to patients’ homes.

Vygon’s product specialist, Iona Mackenzie, explained: “The results of this pilot are really encouraging, considering it means patients who are in end-stage heart failure, to have their pump changed weekly rather than daily, allowing them to maintain some semblance of a normal life.”

She added: “The benefit of the Accufuser is that it is simple enough to be used by the patient or carer. Palliative care of this nature can last for months, maybe even a few years, so it’s important that the pump is comfortable to wear, easily portable and discreet.”

Dr Clea Atkinson is a consultant in supportive and palliative care at the University Hospital of Wales and led the project. She reflected: “While our existing approach had proven valuable in managing patients in the community in the last year of life, it also carried associated costs and human resource implications.

“This project offered a positive patient experience by allowing for care and the option to die where they wished – and for most this was at home. But we also succeeded in reducing adverse events and lessening the burden on hospital admissions, making the care more cost-effective, while improving the environmental impact.”