Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Live chat has come to a close

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all of your questions in today's live chat! We hope you found it useful, we are planning another live chat in December so please keep your eyes peeled for it.

Until then you can find us on our Facebook page, Twitter or the main BHF website.

Thanks and see you soon!

Neil asks: "What are you doing in Wales?"

We’ve been campaigning for better cardiac rehab services in Wales. We recently held a campaigning workshop to train up patients, carers and supporters to become heart advocates for us – amplifying our campaigning work at a local level. If you’re interested in receiving training let us know.

We fund some top-notch research at the Wales Heart Research Institute. BHF Professor Alan Williams is doing world-leading studies into how our heart’s rhythm is controlled, and how it can go wrong to cause life-threatening conditions.

And, in fact, an innovative BHF and Welsh Assembly Govt pilot screening programme is due to launch in the next couple of weeks across Wales. It aims to track down people affected by a life-threatening condition known as FH.

We have brilliant BHF-funded nurses dotted around Wales and we fund equipment for hospitals, defibrilators in the community, and training for life-saving skills.

Johanna asks “How has our work changed since the new government came in? Is it different with Con-Dems?”

BHF is politically neutral – we pride ourselves on being a critical friend to any and all governments.
Our experience with the new government is that they are more than happy to welcome us round the table.
We are fiercely independent – so will be unafraid to take up issues if we need to.

Andrew Newby asks “How can angina be a funny subject? Are you sure this is in good taste?”

Angina isn’t funny but women like to laugh and we are using comedy as a tool to get the conversation started. The plain fact is that too few women are a tuned to the need to protect their heart. They think it’s a male problem.
Women are geared up for breast checks and smear test are and not heart health checks.
We asked women across the country about the laughter and angina monologues (about 150 of them) just about every member of the focus group was supportive of Angina Monologues and the strap line that we want to beat “heart disease one laugh at a time”.

A question from the blog “Junk food bad for hearts what are you doing about it?”

Eating junk food all the time puts families on the road to obesity and heart disease, so BHF has activity in every field we can think of to help people get fitter and choose fab fresh food over fatty fry ups!
We campaign in schools, promote healthy eating through leaflets and on our website – we campaign for better food labelling so people can be informed about what’s in their shopping trolleys and we fund vital research into obesity issues.
Check out our iphone app!

Gerwyn asks about how she can campaign for her daughter’s heart condition

We have written a campaigner tool kit which enables you to start your own campaign – it gives you tips and advice on how to write to your local politicians and how to get your campaign picked-up in your local press. We will send one to you.

Shan asks: does the BHF support those with congenital defects or is it just for heart disease??

Hi Shan, yes we aim to help everyone with heart and circulatory conditions.

We have information resources about congenital conditions – available from our website. We fund specialist nurses that support children with heart defects and their parents in hospital, and nurses to support ‘grown-ups’ that were born with heart problems.

We also run Meet@Teen Heart – a programme for teenagers with congenital heart disease. This includes workshops and awaydays to help them build their confidence and meet others in the same situation. There’s a special website

And of course our heart helpline is available on 0300 330 3311 9am-5pm weekdays for anyone with questions about heart health.

In the ‘back room’ we fund lots of research to understand how and why heart defects develop, and it’s partly the work of BHF-funded researchers that has lead to the incredible improvements in survival for babies born with congenital heart disease.

Peter asks: Why are you not going after alcohol companies like you are tobacco companies

Thanks for your question Peter. You’re right, we have very a different stance in our approach to the two habits. That’s because any amount of smoking is harmful, whereas a small amount of alcohol is not.

The evidence on smoking is clear. It’s estimated that nearly a third of our heart attacks are caused by smoking. It’s a killer habit and we make no bones about saying it loud and clear.

The situation with alcohol is more layered. For example, one or two drinks a day does not increase your risk of heart and circulatory disease. Excessive or binge drinking is bad for your health, and that’s why we’ve taken part in campaigns to encourage drinkers to do so in moderation.

Judith from Worcester asks "Is the BHF planning on working with other charities?"

Yes! BHF is a team player and we’re members of some highly effective coalitions across the health spectrum.

We’re working with nine other charities (including Macmillan and Age UK) on an initiative to help the NHS in its drive to deliver better quality care.
BHF is a founder member of a group called the CVC – a coalition of 40 plus heart charities and organisations with an interest in heart health.

Recently we worked closely with Diabetes UK and Cancer Research UK on a campaign to raise awareness of the heart dangers of “spare tyres” or “muffin tops”.

Check out the active fat website.

@cwlboy Are you finding it more difficult to get your campaigners noticed by the new government at this current time of cut backs?

We are not seeing that at the moment. The new government in this time of austerity is looking for evidence rather than rhetoric and is looking to the charity sector to identify innovative and cost effective new ideas. Campaigns like our Cardiac Rehab campaign are designed to keep people well and out of hospital therefore saving the NHS money. We will continue to push campaigns which benefit patients and have a lasting public health legacy and as a result will save money over many years to come.

Beccy asks “Why is campaigning important?”

It’s important because the BHF campaigns can make a real difference to people lives.

For instance, when it became clear to us, some years ago, that too many people who needed Cardiac Rehabilitation after heart attacks or some surgical procedures were missing out on rehabilitation, BHF stepped in and started campaigning for better, more accessible Cardiac Rehab provision.
We aren’t there yet – but more and more people are getting help thanks to the hard work and support of the medical professors and our campaigners.

Find out more about our latest guide for patients here.

Ben asks "What are you campaigning for next?"

Great! Just been doing my plans at the moment. We will be campaigning to get Emergency Life Saving techniques (ELS) as mandatory part of the national curriculum in England. We would love to see every child across the UK leaving school with these saving skills. The BHF already funds Heart Start programs in half of all schools and it’s been a real success. We will be calling on mums and dads to help us with this campaign, lobbying politicians and their children’s’ schools. Do sign up for a campaigner’s newsletter for updates on how you can get involved.

From the blog we were asked "I thought all of your fundraising went to support scientists. How much is spent on campaigns?

Thanks for your question. Research is indeed our major spend, in fact over £48 million last year was spent on vital science. But our activities also include prevention and care providing vital support and information. We also press the Government for policies which minimise risk of developing heart and circulatory disease.

A campaign like our current push to ban cigarette vending machines, which aims to prevent 23,000 young people from being able to buy cigarettes unsupervised, has cost £20,000. Legislation was passed earlier this year and we’re hoping the ban will come into force in October 2011.

Check out our annual review for more information on how the money we raise is spent.

Tom Jones asks: What support do you guys get from the government currently? Are you likely to get more support from the new regime

Thanks for the question – there are two types of support, financial and non financial. While we currently don’t receive any funding from government, (in the past we have received lottery funding specific projects and projects such as the Change 4 Life project) they are keen to engage with us. We've been building up a strong relationship the new Government, our Chief Executive met with Andrew Lansley last night for a meeting. We are also taking part in the meetings between Government, Charity Sector and Industry to establish the new Responsibility Deal.

Tom, are you a BHF campaigner? If not, you can sign up here.

Andy Jackson asks: I'm in full support of your campaign to ban vending machines, what ways can we get involved to help?

Thanks for your question Andy. This is an issue which we’ve been working on for the last couple of years, we’re delighted that we’re nearly there thanks to the support we’ve had from the public and key MPS. We’re doing a finally push to make sure the new Government recognises the benefit that a ban on vending machines will bring. We’ve been encouraging people when they buy their BHF Christmas cards this year to send one to their local MP asking them to back the ban. BHF Christmas cards are available from our local charity shops, there’s over 600 throughout the UK, or you can find them on our online shop.

Live chat starting soon!

Hi everyone, thanks for coming to today's live chat.

Betty and Maura will be with us shortly, in the mean time please keep your questions coming in.

You can ask your questions in the following ways:

• Email us your question to
• Post it on the BHF Facebook page
Tweet it with the hashtag #BHFQs.

See you at 4pm!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Campaigning and policy live chat 24 November 4-6pm

Got a burning question about the campaigning we do and our policies on heart health, but never known who to ask?

Well, get ready, because on Wednesday 24 November between 4pm and 6pm, Betty McBride - our Director of Policy and Communications - and Maura Gillespie - our Head of Policy - will be answering your questions live on our blog.

You could ask us why we’re campaigning for a ban on tobacco vending machines, or why we want to get women and heart disease in the news.

Why not ask what we’re doing to get results for heart patients from the new government, or what we think of their plans for the NHS?

Perhaps you’d like to know what we plan to do next year, or find out how to join our campaigns.

Whatever your question, ask it – we’re ready.

How do I ask a question?

Send your question to us on in advance or on Wednesday, at any time before 6pm:

Email us your question to
Post it on the BHF Facebook page
Tweet it with the hashtag #BHFQs.

Betty and Maura will try to answer as many of your questions as possible on the day. We look forward to hearing from you!