Stroke patients in England face permanent disability following postcode lottery in treatment

The Stroke Association are highlighting inequalities in care to promote World Stroke Day on 29th October. Fortunately in Greater Manchester, care at all three Hyper Acute Stroke Units gets a top rating unlike elsewhere in the country!

The charity says:

Patients across England are waiting too long for vital hospital treatment which could significantly reduce the impact of their stroke, the Stroke Association has found. On World Stroke Day, the charity launches a new map revealing significant variation in access to stroke treatment across England, including brain scans, specialised stroke units and the clot-busting treatment thrombolysis.

The Stroke Association is highlighting the disparity in hospital treatment as part of its campaign, A New Era for Stroke, in which the charity is calling on the Government to commit to a new National Stroke Strategy for England when it comes to an end in 2017. The charity is warning that without a strategy in place, increasing numbers of stroke patients will face a postcode lottery of treatment.

The charity’s stroke treatment map, which uses figures from the Stroke Sentinel National Audit Programme at the Royal College of Physicians(i), reveals that from April 2015 to March 2016:

  • Almost half (48%) of stroke patients in England receive a brain scan within one hour, yet in North Tees and Hartlepool over a third (36%) of stroke patients wait over 12 hours for a brain scan.
  • Across England, almost nine out of ten (85%) people who are eligible for thrombolysis receive it. In South Tyneside, four in ten (43%) eligible stroke patients are treated with clot-busting drug treatment (thrombolysis). Thrombolysis needs to be administered within four and a half hours; the sooner thrombolysis is given, the safer and more effective it is in reducing a stroke survivor’s disability.
  • The current National Stroke Strategy calls for all patients to be treated in specialist stroke units. Yet three fifths (58%) of applicable stroke patients in England are directly admitted to a stroke unit within four hours, and in Worcestershire, this figure falls to just under a third (29%) of stroke patients.

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association, said: “Over the past decade, we have made great strides in stroke treatment. We know there are hospitals, stroke units and dedicated professionals leading the way for stroke treatment up and down the country. But currently, the stroke treatment people receive depends on where they live.

“These latest figures show shocking variations in vital stroke treatment across England. Stroke is a medical emergency, and when swift treatment is not given to those who need it, people’s recoveries are put at risk. The longer a patient waits for a brain scan, the longer it will be before they receive the right treatment, and they are more likely to be left with a serious disability as a result.

“It is unacceptable that your postcode determines whether or not you face treatment delays if you have a stroke. We need the Government to take action and ensure hospital teams across the country have the support they need to provide local people with the best possible stroke treatment. Since the current Stroke Strategy was devised in 2007, the NHS has changed beyond recognition. The government simply cannot ignore the urgent need for a new strategy to ensure that every stroke patient can have the best possible life after stroke, regardless of where they live.”

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