AF Association

Commissioning of crucial AF treatment

Commissioning of crucial AF treatment

We asked for your support to campaign against the Specialist National Commissioning Board (SNBC)'s plans to stop commissioning of a crucial treatment to prevent AF-related stroke in patients who are unable to take oral anticoagulation; left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO).

Last February, many of you wrote to your MP's, service providers and the SNBC to support our campaign.

As a result, NHS England published a clinical policy statement on LAAO that states the procedure will not be routinely funded, but will be assessed further through a ‘commissioning through evaluation’ process.

This will ensure further evidence is accumulated while a limited number of procedures are carried out at dedicated centres.

The AF Association is involved in helping to design this process and we are pressing to ensure not only is there equity of access, but also timely referral for consideration of the procedure.

Currently plans are only in draft, and we are awaiting a review by NHS England to confirm whether the proposals are approved. It is hoped that from October 2013, NHS England will re-instate commissioning, however both the date and the detail has yet to be confirmed.

Thank you to everyone who supported us to campaign against the unjust restriction of LAAO. The AF Association strongly believes access to treatments for AF should be appropriate to the individual's health needs and equal across all health trusts.

Here is more information about the LAAO procedure

4 Replies

I have a friend who is in this high-risk group and has permanent AF but has never been given anti-coagulants because of another illness that significantly increases his risk of bleeding. I don't think this procedure has even been discussed with him, but it would give him a massively increased quality of life. I just hope the NHS opts to carry on funding the procedure! Any idea of the situation in Wales (worse, I would imagine...)


When I was having a problem with warfarin, a locum at the hospital suggested that I consider this procedure, when I mentioned it to my GP she said that she had never heard of it and when I explained what it was she told me there was no chance as it would be far to expensive.


NHS Wales is not funded in the same way as England and currently don’t offer LAAO. However,both Swansea and Cardiff are looking into setting up the service.

I would suggest you try to contact Dr David Smith, Consultant Cardiologist in Swansea as he is working with the Trust to get the service up and going.


There seems to be increasing use of a 'non surgical' procedure that has not been mentioned. Anyone interested could 'Google' 'lariat procedure' which is increasingly being used in the USA.


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