CALLS to the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Heart Helpline have seen a 10 per cent increase from last year, with nurses now taking up to 400 calls a week.
The figures have been released as the charity announces that thanks to fundraising through their partnership with Royal Mail, its vital helpline is now free to call for the first time since the service was first made available over 20 years ago.
The Heart Helpline is a service where heart patients can call and speak to experienced cardiac nurses about their conditions and concerns. The Heart Helpline, which is open five days a week, offers expert information and support about heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors to approximately 80 callers a day.
Switching to a freephone number means the public won’t be charged for seeking support from an experienced cardiac nurse, making heart health information and guidance more accessible than ever.
Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the BHF said:
“Making our Heart Helpline free to call is a milestone celebration for the BHF. It’s now easier than ever for someone to ring us for information and support, and they can speak to one of our dedicated and experienced cardiac nurses. This has never been more needed as hundreds of thousands of people face record-long waits for vital heart care.
“For over 20 years, we have been helping hundreds of thousands of people process a new diagnosis, understand clinical jargon or be a shoulder to cry on. We’re so grateful to Royal Mail for helping us make our brilliant service even more accessible to support countless more patients and their families.”
Greg Sage, Deputy Director of Corporate Affairs & ESG, Royal Mail said:
“It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to make the Heart Helpline freely accessible for the British public, and brilliant to hear how it’s going to benefit individuals and families across the country. It’s only been made possible through the hard fundraising efforts of our colleagues here at Royal Mail.
“Royal Mail staff have pushed themselves through physical challenges such as the London Marathon, BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride and generously donated through Payroll Giving and worked hard on initiatives to raise money for BHF. It’s a proud achievement for us to have enabled the Heart Helpline to be moved to a freephone number and we’re looking forward to seeing what other impact our partnership with BHF can have.”
There are currently around 7.6 million people in the UK living with heart or circulatory diseases, with these conditions being the biggest killer globally.
The Waters family from Tunbridge Wells in Kent used the BHF’s Heart Helpline on multiple occasions to support father and husband Stuart Waters. Stuart, 48 at the time, suffered a cardiac arrest whilst in the car with his two young children. Stuart was considered clinically dead for 18 minutes and needed several follow-up operations.
Stuart’s wife, Leanne Waters, 37, said:
“The BHF’s Heart Helpline was hugely important for us as a family whilst Stuart was undergoing help and treatment after his cardiac arrest. I felt I needed the support from experts so that I could help him and our family as best I could. It was such a tough time for us and I felt I couldn’t let out my emotions to other members of the family. I remember speaking to a specialist nurse and just breaking down – she allowed me that space that I couldn’t find elsewhere.
“The nurses have always been so kind and gave us the knowledge and reassurance we needed. Knowing it was there as a crutch for us was invaluable. It’s fantastic to hear that the Heart Helpline is now totally free and will continue to support and help families the way it did for us.”
The BHF and Royal Mail partnership will last until 2026 with the goal of protecting heart health and saving lives across communities. This first fundraising milestone will be hugely significant for the 1,600 callers that come through the Heart Helpline each month looking for expert guidance.
You can contact the Heart Helpline for free on: 0808 802 1234 or visit: www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-helpline.
To learn more about the BHF and Royal Mail partnership, please visit: BHF and Royal Mail.