Thursday 15 March 2018
Mercure Southgate Hotel


09:00 AM

Registration & Refreshments

09:25 AM

Event App Overview Karl Hamer

09:30 AM

Welcome Jonathon Gray and Trudi Grant

09:40 AM

The National AF Overview Dr Matt Kearney

We will explore the scale of opportunities and challenges ahead. Look at national initiatives and their impact to-date.

10:10 AM

AF Related Stroke - Impact in the SW Martin James

10:30 AM

Patient Story Justin Smallwood

10:50 AM

Morning Refreshments

11:10 AM

Best Practice Along the AF Pathway Caroline Smith

11:30 AM

Roundtable Discussions and Drop-in Clinics

Delegate packs will be presented with personalised localised data. An action plan with detect/protect/perfect and recommendations on how each supporter can help you to achieve their AF acceleration objectives.


  • QI tools and method to deliver improvement
  • Data for AF - Intervention targeting, budget impact took & report etc
  • NHS Right Care
  • NICE
  • Kernow AF task and finish group
  • British Heart Foundation
12:15 PM

Morning Q&A session Shakti Dookeran

12:45 PM


13:45 PM

DOACs and VKAs – Therapy Update Helen Williams

14:00 PM

Roundtable Discussions and Drop-in Clinics cont.


  • QI tools and method to deliver improvement
  • Data for AF - Intervention targeting, budget impact tool & report etc
  • NHS Right Care
  • Wessex AHSN
  • PHE - Five Key Interventions
  • Arrhythmia Alliance
14:45 PM

Afternoon Refreshments

15:00 PM

Action Planning and Next Steps Karl Hamer

16:00 PM

Afternoon Q&A session Shakti Dookeran

16:20 PM

Review, Feedback and Close Shakti Dookeran


Jonathon is a passionate leader and brings significant experience as a clinician and an academic, an executive team member, and a director of local, national and international improvement and innovation.

Most recently, Jonathon established and led Ko Awatea (Maori for ‘First Light’), an institute for health system innovation and improvement in South Auckland, New Zealand. Jonathon trained as a clinical geneticist, as a public health practitioner with a Masters in Public Health from Harvard, and as an improvement leader, through a Health Foundation Quality Improvement fellowship based at Boston with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Dr Matt Kearney is a general practitioner and National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in England. He has been working for both NHS England and Public Health England since 2013, building a national programme to improve prevention of cardiovascular disease. In particular, he has focused on mobilising the wider primary care system to support earlier detection and improved management of conditions such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and raised cholesterol.

From 2009 to 2014, Matt worked as an advisor to the Department of Health helping develop a national respiratory strategy, and from 2005 to 2013, was a member of Public Health Interventions Advisory Committee at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. He graduated in Medicine from the University of Birmingham and obtained a Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of Liverpool in 2003. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Martin James is Consultant Stroke Physician at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter, and Associate Professor at the University of Exeter Medical School. He trained in Southampton, and he completed his research in hypertension in the elderly with Professor John Potter and the late Professor John Swales in Leicester. He has led the East Devon Stroke Service at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter since 1997. His ongoing research interests include improving methods for the prevention of stroke, stroke rehabilitation and operational research in hyperacute stroke care. He is an Associate Director of the Stroke Programme at the Royal College of Physicians of London with responsibility for the national Peer Review Scheme for Stroke Services, and joint editor of the 2016 RCP National Clinical Guideline for Stroke. He is Honorary Secretary of the British Association of Stroke Physicians.

Other people have strokes: not me

I was in my 40s, a fit and active Royal Marines Commando. I didn’t need to train to run a decent half marathon, I rowed hard at weekends and trained in the gym during the week, using a heart rate monitor to keep track of how hard I was training. Then one day I noticed that my heart rate was far higher than the exercise effort warranted and I also began to have episodes when my heart started pounding away for no particular reason - palpitations. So, off to the GP who, suspecting atrial fibrillation (AF), referred me to the cardiologist who told me I did indeed have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and suggested warfarin and beta blockers which I declined because other people have strokes; not me. AF and palpitations didn’t really sound that dangerous.

Wrong. One morning a few months later, coming down the stairs at home, I felt a not entirely unpleasant feeling of light headedness as I slid to the ground and lost consciousness. Some time later I came round and I tried to carry on with my day. Confused, unco-ordinated and unable to grasp what might have happened until a friend rang and asked me why my speech was slurred. He took me to the GP who asked me to raise both arms above my head and say hippopotamus. I failed both tests and he concluded I’d had a stroke. So it was off to the stroke unit at the RD&Et to have a good think about why I hadn’t taken the cardiologist’s advice.

It may be that endurance athletes are more prone to AF. It may be that people who drink even a little bit over the recommended number of units of alcohol get AF. It may just be bad luck to have AF. If you suspect something’s not quite right with your heart rhythm then talk to your GP. If your GP can quickly confirm a heart beat irregularity using an ECG machine, then more people will receive the right treatment and fewer people will have strokes.

I was lucky and after my stroke I was left with only mild residual weakness in my left side and some slurred speech both of which I overcame. I also suffered emotionalism – tearfulness – not good fun for anyone especially if you are a Royal Marine Commando! Since retiring from the Royal Marines my work has been to help other people with their stroke rehab. I have trained as an Action for Rehabilitation from Neurological Injury – www.arni.co.uk – stroke rehab trainer. I also make it my business to encourage people to get that irregular heart beat looked at and if that can be done at the GP surgery, so much the better. The link between AF and stroke is very real. If you think you have AF, don’t be complacent, don’t be scared but do go and talk to your GP – now.

Mrs Caroline Smith MA, BSc Hons, RGN

Caroline has worked at Yeovil since 2005 and has supported the stroke pathway and imbedded it into daily practice. She is an independent prescriber, principle investigator for trials and has recently published on the benefits of the action learning sets for enhancing strategic clinical leadership among consultant nurses.

Her aim is to ensure that evidence based practice for stroke occurs in all units, regardless of size and location and that small hospitals can achieve excellent clinical outcomes whilst maintaining a friendly hands-on approach. With this purpose she has been invited to other small Trusts to offer practical support and promoting the role of the non-medical practitioner.

Shakti Dookeran is a Population Health Service Manager at Public Health England (PHE) and has been leading the national Atrial Fibrillation (AF)-related stroke prevention programme for the past three years. In this role Shakti uses her leadership skills to energise and influence partner agencies to work collaboratively and share resources more effectively across the system, both at national and local levels. The programme aims to improve outcomes for people with AF by helping to tackle system-wide challenges, such as improving access to data, disseminating good practice and strengthening clinical leadership.

Working with the Academic Health Science Network, voluntary sector, NHS Right Care, NHS England and other agencies, Shakti successfully gained consensus on a national ambition to prevent 5000 AF-related strokes over the next 5 years and led the delivery of two successful AF-related stroke prevention events in 2016. These events brought together providers and commissioners and provided a platform for learning and wider adoption of resources and support. The success of these events beckoned a call for further regional events which will be delivered over 2017 and 2018.

Before joining PHE, Shakti worked in the Public Health team in the diverse borough of Tower Hamlets for five years where she moved through several roles working on areas such as sexual health, mental health, healthy lifestyles and drugs and alcohol. Shakti led a range of primary and secondary prevention projects which involved engaging and influencing stakeholders to agree priority areas for joint action and delivery. Shakti has a special interest in innovative approaches to prevention and led a highly publicised project ‘Faith in Health’ which raised population awareness of health promotion messages and services through roadshows, community events and religious leader health champions.

Shakti holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and recently completed a M.Sc. in Health Policy at Imperial College London with a major in Shared Leadership.

Consultant Pharmacist for Cardiovascular Disease, South London, UK
National Clinical Adviser for AF, AHSN Network
Clinical Director for AF, Health Innovation Network
Clinical Lead for Cardiovascular Disease, Southwark and Lambeth CCGs

As Consultant Pharmacist for CVD Disease, Helen is involved in a wide range of activities across South London to improve the care of patients with or at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Helen chairs the local cardiovascular medicines working group which develops and supports the implementation of consensus evidence-based guidance for use across South London’s 12 clinical commissioning groups and 7 acute trusts, covering a population of 3.6million. Currently, there is a strong focus on medicines optimisation in primary care for long terms conditions such as heart failure, hypertension and atrial fibrillation with the aim of reducing the burden of acute hospital admissions and she has been involved in supporting primary care practitioners through guideline implementation, clinical audit and provision of pharmacist-led virtual clinics. A key focus over recent years has been to increase the proportion of patients with AF who are anticoagulated to reduce the incidence of AF-related stroke.

Helen is also the clinical lead for CVD within two South London CCGs, Clinical Director for AF in the local Health Innovation Network, National Clinical Adviser to the collaborative AF programme of the 15 Academic Health Science Networks across England and also co-chair of the Pan-London stroke prevention in Atrial Fibrillation strategy group. In addition, Helen is an editorial board member for the British Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Medicines Optimisation, has worked with NICE on the development of a number of cardiovascular guidelines and is a member of the NHS England Primary Care Cardiovascular Leadership Forum and the London Cardiovascular and Stroke Strategic Clinical Leadership Groups.



Mercure Southgate Hotel

Southernhay East, Exeter EX1 1QF

Via the M5, exit at Junction 29 and take the A3015 towards Exeter City Centre. Continue into the city for 2.5 miles (4 km), through 2 roundabouts and right at 2 fork junctions. You then come down a hill (Heavitree Police Station on the right, Pyramids Pool on the left) and arrive at a large roundabout. Take the 1st exit off the roundabout onto Western Way (Plymouth via the A38). Turn right at the 1st lights onto Barnfield Rd then 1st left onto Southernhay East. The hotel is down the hill on the right.

Railway stations:
EXETER CENTRAL (0.97 km / 0.60 mi)
EXETER ST DAVID'S (2.30 km / 1.43 mi)


Registration is free for healthcare professionals within the UK who have a special interest in AF. Please note that spaces are limited and available on a first-come first-served basis.