Significant improvements in NHS stroke care, new study finds

Patients are receiving significantly improved NHS stroke care, an independent report published today has revealed.

The fourth annual report, commissioned by NHS England, states that patients are getting much quicker access to the vital tests and treatment they need when they have a stroke, greatly improving their chances of recovery.

On the key indicators for stroke care, significant quality improvements have been made including on waiting times and specialist care. Improvements highlighted in the report since the first report four years ago include:

  • Brain scanning times have improved with the numbers of patients scanned within 12 hours with more than 9 out of 10 (93.5 per cent) scanned within 12 hours, up from 84.6 per cent.
  • Four out of five patients are assessed by a stroke specialised consultant physician within 24 hours.
  • Almost nine out of 10 of eligible patients are receiving a clot busting drug thrombolysis, up from around seven in 10 two years ago. The numbers treated within one hour have risen from 53.2 per cent to 62.3 per cent.
  • Nine out of 10 patients received a joint health and social care plan on discharge in 2016/17, compared to only seven out of 10 in 2013/14.

Stroke is a devastating disease for patients and their families, and is estimated to cost the NHS around £3billion per year, with additional cost to the economy of £4billion in lost productivity, disability and informal care. Rapid assessment and treatment is known to save lives and improve chances of recovery.

Professor Tony Rudd, National Clinical Director for Stroke at NHS England said: “Stroke can be devastating for patients and their loved ones and so it is fantastic to see the excellent progress which has been made over the last four years. Real improvements have been made, not just in identifying and managing those with key stroke risk factors, but in waiting times for tests and new revolutionary treatments being provided.

“We are not complacent about stroke care – it remains the fourth biggest killer in England and we recognise that there is a great deal more still to do. The data published today provides us with a very high standard which we can continue to improve from to make stroke care even better for patients.”

The number of stroke survivors in the UK is set to rise to over two million people and the NHS in England is working closely with the Stroke Association and other key organisations to develop a very clear plan to continue to improve stroke services across the country, which will include joining up our ambulance services, hospital services and community services to reduce the death rate, disability rate and increase the number of people that return to independent living.

NHS England also announced in April that they would commission mechanical thrombectomy to benefit 8,000 patients a year, which can significantly decrease the risk of long-term disability and also save millions of pounds in long term health and social care costs. Work remains underway to make this possible in the coming years.