Cardiology is one of the largest medical specialties and focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the heart and circulatory system.

Around 6.1 million people in England live with cardiovascular disease (CVD) – leading to around 136,000 deaths each year.

The GIRFT report for cardiology focuses on reducing clinical variation and supporting cardiology services to work more flexibly through clinical networks. This includes reinforcing clinical pathways and improving access to imaging/diagnostics (via community diagnostic hubs) shaped by function and local need.

Dr Sarah Clarke

Joint Cardiology Clinical Lead

Sarah is an interventional cardiologist and clinical director for strategic development at the Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Cambridge.

She has a track record of leading the delivery of transformational clinical pathways. She led the introduction of primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) in the East of England and was cardiology lead for the design of new Royal Papworth Hospital, opening in 2019.

Sarah was elected the first female president of the British Cardiovascular Society (2015-2018), was governor of the GB and Ireland Chapter, American College Cardiology (2015-2018) and has been a member of the board of the European Society Cardiology since 2018.

In 2022 she was appointed president of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2021 appointed deputy chair to the British Heart Foundation.

In 2018 she was awarded the American College of Cardiology international service award for advancing cardiac care globally and, in the same year, the Mackenzie Medal of the British Cardiovascular Society.

Professor Simon Ray

Joint Cardiology Clinical Lead

Professor Ray was appointed consultant cardiologist at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS trust in 1995, prior to its merger which formed Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust in 2017. He was appointed Honorary Professor of Cardiology at the University of Manchester in 2011.

He has served as the president of the British Society of Echocardiography, vice president for clinical standards of the British Cardiovascular Society, and president of the British Heart Valve Society.

He is a past president of the British Cardiovascular Society and a member of the board of trustees of the British Heart Foundation.

In February 2024, he was appointed as NHSE’s NCD for heart disease.

Useful information

  • What is cardiology?
    Cardiology is a broad specialty covering a number of different conditions and sub-specialties within hospital services. It is a multidisciplinary specialty with a diverse workforce, including cardiac physiologists, pharmacists and radiologists.

    Care provided by cardiology teams includes treating heart rhythms using interventional cardiac electrophysiology (EP); the use of devices such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) to treat abnormally fast or life-threatening heart rhythms; services to treat people with inherited cardiac conditions (ICCs) and adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) services.

  • What does the GIRFT cardiology report recommend?
    A key recommendation is for cardiology services to work as part of a well-defined clinical network, offering capacity/mutual aid during times of high demand (e.g. winter pressures).

The report also explores how to strengthen 24/7 services, utilise digital tools to support improved communication between patients and clinicians, and reduce length of stay, where appropriate.

  • In December 2023, NHS England published guidance for enhancing GP direct access to diagnostic tests for patients with clinical features of suspected chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma or heart failure. Click here to read or download.
Cardiology networks will deliver better access to care, says GIRFT national report

GIRFT’s national review of NHS cardiology services across England highlights the importance of digital transformation, alongside the introduction of cardiology networks, to improve access to services and to better integrate pathways across acute, primary and community care.  

The cardiology report presents a detailed review of the ways in which services are delivered and who is delivering them. It makes 25 recommendations aimed at closing gaps in provision, improving clinical pathways and access to imaging and workforce.  

Diagnostic hubs in the community will help to reduce the number of referrals that require consultation in secondary care, whilst using digital platforms – between primary and secondary care – will allow these hubs to triage and provide initial diagnosis in the community.

In February 2021, GIRFT published its national speciality report for Cardiology:

Click above to view the pdf report

Watch the video about the Cardiology report…

Click above to play the cardiology national report video

Cardiology Academy Resources