Heart Rhythm UK (formerly BPEG) Annual Report 7th February 200602 June 2006
This has been a busy and productive year for our society, with major constitutional changes, new elections to council, and significant involvement with the Government on the management of patients with cardiac arrhythmias and the implementation of clinical guidelines.
At our Annual General Meeting on 17th December 2004, the constitutional changes which had been prepared by Campbell Cowan were unanimously accepted by the membership, and a decision was made to change the society's name from the British Pacing and Electrophysiology Group to Heart Rhythm UK. At the same time, initial steps were taken to change the society's position from a charity to a company limited by guarantee, and that process is still ongoing.
Elections for new council members took place in February 2005, and the new members took their seats on council on 3rd March 2005. Derek Connelly was elected president of the new organisation, and Michael Gammage was elected honorary secretary. Two new physician members were elected: Steve Furniss, representing doctors with an interest in interventional electrophysiology, and Nick Linker, representing doctors with an interest in implantable devices. Two new physiologist members were elected: Nicola Hill and Sue Jones. For the first time, a position was made on council for a specialist arrhythmia nurse, and Jayne Mudd was elected to that position. The new council members thanked their outgoing colleagues, especially Janet McComb, who had resumed the presidency after the untimely death of Tony Rickards, and Campbell Cowan, who as honorary secretary had worked tirelessly on the reform of the society.
The new National Service Framework chapter on Arrhythmias and Sudden Cardiac Death was launched on 4th March 2005, and many members of our society have been heavily involved in the writing and implementation of this chapter. Several regional meetings have been organised in order to highlight the requirement for an enhanced service for patients with cardiac arrhythmias. Heart Rhythm UK has been working with the Department of Health and with the patient organisations which constitute the Arrhythmia Alliance in order to implement the recommendations of this chapter.
NICE published its preliminary guidance on indications for implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) in May 2005, and we were deeply disappointed that they wanted to resist any increase in the indication for ICDs despite the positive evidence from several recent clinical trials. After a concerted campaign involving statements from the British Cardiac Society, Heart Rhythm UK, the Arrhythmia Alliance, and several other individuals, NICE updated their recommendations to include high-risk patients with poor LV function and wide QRS complexes post-MI. The final guidance was published on 25th January 2006.
Interventional electrophysiology continues to increase in impact and complexity. Richard Schilling organised a two-day conference in September 2005 on interventional electrophysiology, which was highly successful. Mike Griffith has been instrumental in establishing a national database for ablation procedures, and we fervently hope that that will be a source of future publications.
The coming year is shaping up to be busy, challenging and controversial. Our annual three-day educational meeting (which last took place in September 2005, organised by Neil Davidson) is being expanded into a joint meeting organised and hosted by Heart Rhythm UK and the Arrhythmia Alliance. This will take place on 19-21 September 2006, at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham. It promises to be a major event, and will surely become one of the academic highlights of the year for all who have an interest in the management of patients with cardiac arrhythmias.
At the time of writing, there is a major controversy regarding the purchasing of implantable defibrillators in England. The Department of Health has instituted a process via its Purchasing and Supplies Agency (PASA) to look into the possibility of centralised tendering and purchasing of these devices. Mike Gammage has been involved in the initial negotiations with PASA, and is striving to ensure that the agency takes into account the complexity of the process and the need to ensure service support and education as part of the funding package. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of resistance from industry and from several Heart Rhythm UK members, and we look forward to a full and frank discussion on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of this process, before our society decides whether to support or oppose it. Roger Boyle, the National Director for Heart Disease, will attend the Heart Rhythm UK council meeting on 9th February 2006 to discuss this process with us.
Finally, at the end of December 2005 we said goodbye to Beverley Charters, who has provided secretarial and administrative support for our organisation for longer than most of us have been practising in the field. We wish her well in her future endeavours, and I express my personal gratitude to her for all the help she has given me over the years. Susannah Gray has taken over the role of providing administrative support, and we extend a warm welcome to her.
Derek T. Connelly
Number of hits: 3275 Add Comments