47,000 stroke patients may miss out on ‘miracle’ treatment which can save lives and prevent life-changing disability
- Mechanical thrombectomy uses stent to remove large blood clots from the brain
- But the Stroke Association has said more than 47,000 patients will miss out on it
- That is, it adds, unless NHS England and the Government take immediate action
- Stroke Association calling for 24/7 thrombectomy service, saving £73m per year
Thousands of stroke patients could miss out on a ‘miracle treatment’ which can save lives and prevent life-changing disability.
A mechanical thrombectomy is a ‘game-changing’ treatment which uses a stent to remove large blood clots from the brain.
But the Stroke Association says more than 47,000 patients will miss out on it over the next seven years unless NHS England and the Government take immediate action.
That is based on the rate of thrombectomies from the year 2020-21.
Juliet Bouverie, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘Thrombectomy is a miracle treatment that pulls patients back from near-death and alleviates the worst effects of stroke.
‘It’s shocking that so many patients are missing out and being saddled with unnecessary disability.’
There is a stroke in the UK every five minutes, with around 100,000 people a year having one.
The Stroke Association is calling for a 24/7 thrombectomy service, which it predicts would save £73million per year by slashing the cost of looking after people with stroke in the long term.
the Stroke Association says more than 47,000 patients will miss out on a mechanical thrombectomy over the next seven years unless NHS England and the Government take immediate action (stock image)
The charity says only a quarter of thrombectomy units are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with 42 per cent only operating during office hours.
The Stroke Association says NHS England has missed its target to make mechanical thrombectomy available to more patients – only delivering to 28 per cent of those who would benefit.
The charity also highlighted an ‘unacceptable postcode lottery’ in care, with almost eight per cent of stroke patients receiving thrombectomy in London in 2020-21, according to figures it supplied to doctors’ magazine Pulse.
That compared with less than three per cent in other parts of the country, although the statistics could be skewed by some areas sending people to London for treatment.
Professor Martin James, consultant stroke physician at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and a clinical trustee of the Stroke Association, said: ‘Thrombectomy really is a game-changing treatment, yet the number of people receiving the treatment in the UK remains much lower than elsewhere in Europe, and has been only slowly increasing over recent years.
‘At this rate, it won’t be available to all those who could benefit for many years to come.’
An NHS spokesman said: ‘By bringing services together through newly-created stroke networks, we are supporting local clinicians to deliver 24/7 access to thrombectomy, clot-busting drugs and other life-saving specialist stroke services in every part of the country.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are growing the health and social care workforce, with over 4,000 more doctors and 9,600 more nurses compared to last year, and over 1,400 more doctors in general practice compared to March 2019.
‘We are grateful for healthcare staff across the country who continue to improve stroke prevention and treatment services – including access to thrombectomy – as part of the ambitious NHS Long Term Plan.’