Advanced Emergency Treatment to Assist Stroke Victims

An estimated 8,000 stroke patients a year are set to benefit from an advanced emergency treatment which can significantly decrease the risk of long-term disability and also save millions of pounds in long term health and social care costs.

NHS England has announced that it will commission mechanical thrombectomy so it can become more widely available for patients who have certain types of acute ischaemic stroke.

If used within the first six hours of symptoms beginning to show – alongside other specialist medical treatment and care – the procedure has been shown in clinical trials to significantly improve survival and quality of life by restoring blood flow and therefore limiting brain damage.

Work by NHS England is now underway to assess the readiness of each of the 24 neuroscience centres across the country which are set to introduce the service.

It is expected the treatment will start to be phased in later in this year with an estimated 1,000 patients set to benefit across the first year of introduction.

NHS England will work with Health Education England and trusts to build on the expertise that is currently available in these specialised centres, developing the workforce and systems to enable an estimated 8,000 to receive this treatment in coming years.

Strokes are estimated to cost the NHS around £3 billion annually, with an additional cost to the economy of a further £4 billion in lost productivity, disability and informal care.

This is all part of NHS England’s plans to introduce world leading and innovative healthcare as set out in Next steps for the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, proclaimed the new initiative.

“This major national upgrade to stroke services puts the NHS at the leading edge of stroke care internationally. It’s another practical example of the NHS quietly expanding innovative modern care that will really benefit patients, but which tends to be invisible in the public debate about the NHS.”

While Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association, also welcomed the new programme.

“This decision by NHS England could give thousands of critically ill stroke patients an increased chance of making a better recovery. It could mean more stroke survivors living independently in their own homes, returning to work and taking control of their lives again as a result. And this will undoubtedly lower NHS and social care costs for stroke.”

Bouverie warned, though, that strokes are complicated to treat and much more attention is still required in order to address this critical area of health.

“However, thrombectomy is a complicated procedure. Its delivery across England will need significant changes to NHS stroke services, as well as an increase in the number of trained professionals who can carry out the procedure so that as many people as possible can benefit from this powerful new treatment.”

Thrombectomy services will be commissioned by NHS England as a specialised service, following a review of evidence from clinical trials.

NHS England anticipates that the improved long term quality of life for patients who will be treated with thrombectomy will result in multimillion pound annual savings for the NHS and local authorities thanks to lower rehabilitation and long term care costs.

Strokes occur approximately 152,000 times every year in the UK


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