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Charity calls for commitment to thrombectomy after plans made by Scottish government

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Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland is calling for a stronger commitment to thrombectomy following the launch of the latest Stroke Improvement Plan.

The plan has been put in place by the Scottish government and plans to help “minimise preventable strokes and ensure timely and equitable access to life-saving treatment and a person centred, holistic approach to care that supports rehabilitation.”

You can read the full Stroke Improvement Plan, here.

Thrombectomy is a life-changing procedure that improves stroke survivors’ chances of leaving hospital without a disability. For an explanation on the procedure, see our interview with thrombectomy expert Dr Sanjeev Nayak, here.

Up to 800 people every year could benefit from a 24/7 service, but only a fraction of this number had access to the procedure this year.

Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive of Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland said:

“We welcome the latest Stroke Improvement Plan, which has the potential to improve the lives of stroke survivors in Scotland.

“We are particularly pleased with the recommendations around rehabilitation that focus on life after stroke and supported self-management that will greatly improve outcomes for stroke survivors.  We’re delighted that the Scottish Government have listened to the voice of patients and the third sector, who have advocated for greater self management support for some time.

“However, for people to benefit from greater support after stroke, they also need equitable access to quality hyper acute care. We are concerned that the plan falls short of the commitment to a national service made by the previous Cabinet Secretary. It’s unacceptable that someone who has a stroke outside of 9-5 working hours loses out on the chance to access this life changing treatment.

“The plan currently focuses on expanding access with an aim to create a nationwide service, rather than a concrete commitment. We will continue to push for a 24/7 thrombectomy service to ensure that is equal access to this life changing procedure across the country.”

Norrie Jenkins – Stroke Survivor Case Study

Norrie Jenkins, 80, from Maryhill in Glasgow had a serious stroke whilst on holiday in Majorca in 2019.  Norrie’s partner Annie Andrews knows all too well the impact that quick access to thrombectomy following a stroke can have.

Speaking about their experience Annie, a former nurse, said: “When I realised that my partner was having a stroke in a foreign country, I was terrified.  I had no idea what level of care he would receive.

“Fortunately, the care he did receive was brilliant.  When doctors realised that the initial treatment wasn’t working, he was immediately referred for thrombectomy at the main hospital and the results were incredible.  Norrie was able to speak again, and he had regained movement in his arm and leg.

“When we returned to Scotland, I was shocked to learn that had Norrie had his stroke at home he would not, at that time, have had access to thrombectomy.

“I firmly believe that without thrombectomy treatment Norrie may have been paralysed for life and left unable to speak.

“I am appalled to think that this could still be the case for thousands of people across Scotland who don’t have access to this essential procedure.

“Both Norrie and I support Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland in calling on the Scottish Government to commit to 24/7 access to thrombectomy for all people living in Scotland.”

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