The aim of the ‘AF champions’ project was to upskill a local atrial fibrillation (AF) champion in each of 43 practices within Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in order to increase the capability of primary care to effectively diagnose AF and safely prescribe anticoagulation therapy for patients at risk of AF-related stroke.
AF champions attended intensive training sessions delivered by a stroke physician to develop skills in AF management. Participant-led shared learning was a key component of these sessions. Additionally, hand-held AF detection devices (MyDiagnostick) were provided to participating practices. The champions were encouraged to improve ‘detect, protect and perfect’ AF management, utilising technology and learning from the programme.
Data from the Berkshire West AF registry was analysed (2018-20). During 2019/20, an additional 655 patients were diagnosed with AF (6% year-on-year increase) and 594 high-risk patients were anticoagulated, which translates to 22 fewer strokes. Practices in socioeconomically deprived areas made greater proportional gains in AF detection (14% higher year on year increase).
This model has the potential to be used to drive improvements across other long-term conditions and hopefully addresses socio-economic inequality in AF management.