Scots GP's warning on '9 to 5' stroke treatment

ACCESS to a clot-busting treatments for stroke patients must be increased across the NHS, doctors have said.

Many stroke patients would benefit from thrombolysis, which involves giving drugs shortly after a stroke to break down blood clots in the body.

But the British Medical Association conference in Cardiff heard that in some areas, such treatment is only available on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

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Dr Andrew Thomson, a GP in Angus, said a nationwide TV advertising campaign to encourage awareness of stroke and the need to seek medical help quickly, launched in 2009, had been undermined by the lack of 24-hour access to thrombolysis.

He said research had found early treatment with thrombolysis in patients who had suffered an ischaemic stroke significantly reduced death and disability after 90 days.

"At the time of the campaign, and indeed now, the availability of thrombolysis was patchy," he said. "This misalignment created havoc for the patient, GPs, A&E, out-of-hours and ambulance services alike."

Meanwhile, a senior medic insisted claims that young doctors were less well trained than in the past were without substance.

Speaking at the conference, doctors said assertions had been made by some working within the NHS that changes to junior medics' training and working hours were leading to a fall in standards. But Dr Alan Robertson, a speciality registrar in cardiology in Dundee, said there was no evidence that young doctors now were being less well trained than their predecessors.

It is suspected that some managers and senior clinicians working in the NHS have suggested that training standards have fallen in an effort to keep lower-paid junior doctors working on wards for longer before they can become consultants.

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