UK ablation rates lower than Europe

Published: 27 Aug 2015

The National Audit of Cardiac Rhythm Management publishes new information in the 2013-14 Annual Cardiac Ablation report

The 9th annual report of the National UK Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) Ablation Audit Report covers ablation for cardiac arrhythmias during the 2013/14 financial year, along with trends over preceding (calendar) years.

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Data from the report, commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) as part of the National Clinical Audit Programme*, is based on returns from around 60 NHS and private centres within the UK performing ablation procedures for the management of patients with heart rhythm disorders.

In contrast to the preceding decade, the total number of ablation procedures levelled off during the period 2010-2014. Rather than reflecting a reduction in demand, this is thought to indicate that current ablation centres are working to capacity.

Ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition which affects more than 1 million people in the UK is now the most common ablation procedure, comprising two thirds of all procedures. Ablation for AF is amongst the newest and most complex procedures; due to its complexity, it is more time consuming and demanding of resources.

The report highlights a widespread variation in ablation rates per capita both within regions and through the UK. However, larger centres appear to perform more AF ablation procedures in proportion to other types of ablation. When comparing with immediate Western European neighbours, ablation rates in the UK remain low and are below the average for ‘greater’ Europe.

It was found that both the completeness and quality of data returns are highly variable with a number of centres failing to report a proportion of cases altogether, with others returning incomplete data.

Dr Francis Murgatroyd, Chair of the BHRS Audit Committee and Clinical Lead of the CRM Audit said: “The number of ablation procedures performed in the UK increased greatly between 2007 and 2010, but has remained fairly static since. During that period, the case-mix has evolved greatly, with “traditional” ablations for supraventricular tachycardia now accounting for only 25% of cases reported. Compared to our immediate Western European neighbours, ablation rates in the UK remain low, and are even below the average for “greater” Europe.”