Stroke patients failed as key Scots targets missed

Many hospitals fell short of required standards. Picture: Jayne Wright
Many hospitals fell short of required standards. Picture: Jayne Wright
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CALLS have been made for improvements to care for stroke victims after many Scottish hospitals fell short of expected standards.

The Scottish Stroke Care Audit revealed that a string of key targets were missed last year, with only 80 per cent of patients treated in a specialist stroke unit within one day of admission against a 90 per cent target.

The annual report, which was published yesterday, found that 20 hospitals across Scotland failed to achieve the standard set by the Scottish Government.

Just 43 per cent of patients were treated using the drug thrombolysis within one hour of hospital admission, against a target of 80 per cent.

The proportion of patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy, an operation to clear a narrowing of blood vessels in the neck, within 14 days of a stroke also fell to 38 per cent, against an 80 per cent target.

Important standards were also missed on the provision of aspirin and swallow screens, which help people to ingest food and fluids safely.

Campaigners said there was still a long way to go until patients could be assured of receiving the best possible care.

Andrea Cail, director for Scotland of the Stroke Association said: “These standards are tough and they are meant to challenge stroke teams to ensure continuous improvements in treatment and care.

“However, we are concerned to see that a number of hospitals in Scotland are still failing to meet the standard set for some of the vital elements of care as outlined in the stroke care 
bundle.”

She called for more patients to have a scan within four hours of arriving in hospital, to ensure the right treatment is provided.

Ms Cail added: “Stroke remains a key health issue for the people of Scotland and the Scottish NHS. It is the third commonest cause of death in Scotland and the most common cause of severe physical disability amongst Scottish adults and we have to continuously seek to improve how we manage this condition. The pressure that hospitals are facing isn’t likely to go away. Despite the reduction in the number of strokes in Scotland over the last 10 years, type 2 diabetes and obesity are on the increase and we have an ageing population – all of these are risk factors for stroke.”

The figures show there is “a real problem” with stroke care in Scotland, warned Labour health spokesperson Jenny Marra.

She said: “Not only has the performance gone backwards this year, the target has been missed by a staggering ten per cent. The health secretary should be looking at these figures and asking why key targets have been missed by such large 
margins.”

NHS Scotland clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said: “This year’s Scottish Stroke Care Audit continues to show that stroke care is consistently improving year on year with every health board making improvements in delivering the ‘stroke care bundle’ – a group of specific interventions which can significantly improve patient outcome.”