Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland calls for long-term plan to avoid care crisis

A stroke charity has called on the Scottish Government to put in place a long-term plan for care.

Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) said a proposal which brings together the resources and expertise of the health service, care sector and charities would help to avoid a “stroke care crisis” after the coronavirus pandemic.

The comments come as a report published by Public Health Scotland showed that compliance with the Stroke Care Bundle – a package of support designed to decrease mortality and increase discharges to normal residence – was 64% in 2019.

Under NHS guidance, the bundle puts a time limit on admission to a stroke unit, the administration of a swallow test and aspirin, and the undertaking of a brain scan, all of which are measured.

The figure is an increase from 59% the year before, but still short of the 80% target, which was not met by a single health board.

The report said that while the figure may seem low, 2019 was the first year where a 12-hour time limit was placed on brain scans.

CHSS chief executive Jane-Claire Judson (pictured) said: “While the report shows that some progress is being made in some areas, key stroke care targets were still being missed before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This report is a warning that we can’t let progress towards meeting reasonable targets and delivery of better stroke care stall or go backwards because of the virus.

“We know that coronavirus is putting the NHS under considerable pressure. We are also being told that the virus could be with us for some time.

“We need the Scottish Government to come forward with a package of measures that helps stroke care continue to improve and helps people live well at home.

“The Covid-19 crisis must not develop into a wider stroke care crisis. We have an opportunity to do things better to give people the best possible recovery and reduce future pressures on the NHS.”

The Public Health Scotland report also showed that just four health boards improved stroke care performance in 2019 – Dumfries and Galloway, Tayside, Ayrshire and Arran and Highland.

There was “no statistically significant change” in all other health boards CHSS said.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our Stroke Improvement Plan is helping deliver important improvements in prevention, treatment and care, with mortality rates decreasing by 35.2% over the last 10 years.

“We want to build on this progress and ensure people who have had a stroke get access to the best possible care as quickly as possible. We are focused on providing that care in acute settings as well as helping people’s long-term recovery in their own communities.

“The Scottish Government expects NHS boards to appropriately plan and deliver high-quality, safe, effective services and to regularly review services to maintain high level of quality and safety that people in Scotland expect and deserve.

“We are continuing to support the Scottish Stroke Improvement Programme inform and drive improvement across stroke care. We remain committed to delivering the commitments set out in the 2019 Programme for Government (PfG), further setting out our commitment for a thrombectomy service in Scotland in this year’s PfG.”

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