Many AF patients are prescribed an anticoagulant to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke. It is essential for these people to have their blood tested regularly. This is known as measuring international normalised ratio (INR).
For some people it could involve monthly visits to their doctor's surgery, clinic or pharmacy. For others it could require several visits a month. This could be challenging for people who have mobility problems, work or lifestyle commitments or have limited access to transport.
We are campaigning in association with the Anticoagulation Self-Monitoring Alliance(ACSMA) to give patients the choice to measure their INR themselves.
Infographic, March 2014: Learn more about the success of ACSMA, one year on. Viewhere.
Self-monitoring could be done in the comfort of your own home using a portable INR tester, which takes a small drop of blood from the finger. You can then report the readings to your healthcare professional, if your healthcare provider supports self-monitoring.
- Patient choice - patients are empowered to make healthcare decisions for themselves
- Cost benefits to both patients and healthcare through efficiency
- Prevents regular visits to clinics, which could be challenging for working individuals, people with mobility or other health problems and those restricted by transport
- Encourages joined-up care between patients and clinicians
The ACSMA campaign has reached out to parliamentarians in a bid to address self-monitoring as a debate issue in health policy.
Jeremy Hunt MP, the Secretary of State for Health, responded to our concerns with this letter.
Mark Durkan MP is eager to support the campaign and address the matter in Northern Ireland.
We are continuing to lobby policymakers to give patients the chance to opt for self-monitoring.
In an online survey (2013), 173 people took part of which:
- 39.9% regularly go to their GP for a blood test
- 34.7% self-monitor with an INR self-monitoring device
- 20.8% regularly go to an anticoagulation clinic at a hospital for a blood test
For those who are not self-monitoring:
have been discouraged by a healthcare professional, who is unaware, unsupportive or cited legal reasons.
Of those who self-monitor but are not adjusting their own warfarin:
are unaware this may be an option or they have been told it is not allowed by a healthcare professional.
Of those who regularly self-monitor:
say their GP has said that they are not allowed to prescribe test strips.
"I have been on warfarin for 19 years now and will be for the rest of my life. I would be saving the NHS money by self monitoring by freeing up appointment times, saving on laboratory costs, courier costs, etc. So. for people like me, we should be given them free of charge."
"I feel that this should be provided by the NHS, we already have to pay for warfarin even when the need for this is for life. It does not seem fair how if I were diabetic all the necessary equipment to manage it is free."