Health secretary urged to bring back ‘life-changing’ stroke operation

For stroke patient Robert Baldock, the operation was vital ' 'I was able to have the thrombectomy that saved my life. For me there was no alternative'
For stroke patient Robert Baldock, the operation was vital ' 'I was able to have the thrombectomy that saved my life. For me there was no alternative'
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The health secretary is being urged to bring back a life-changing stroke operation to Scottish hospitals.

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) has joined with patients to call on Jeane Freeman and the Scottish Government to reverse a decision made earlier this year and reintroduce a vital procedure called thrombectomy – no longer available to patients in Scotland but available elsewhere in the UK. In 2017, only 13 people received this life-changing treatment in Scotland before a moratorium was introduced – but as many as 600 would have benefited.

Thrombectomy is a highly specialised procedure that involves physically removing blood clots from the brain.

In England 25 hospitals deliver the treatment and £100 million has been identified to develop. In the Republic of Ireland between 200 and 300 people receive a thrombectomy each year.

The charity is calling for the Scottish Government to step in with funding to reinstate thrombectomy services, address a shortage of trained staff and develop a national plan for rolling out the service to patients across Scotland.

Jane-Claire Judson, CEO of CHSS said: “Thrombectomy is a procedure that changes the lives of stroke patients. It can save people from significant disability. It is completely unacceptable that this procedure is no longer available to people who need it in Scotland. We need to see action as Scottish patients are getting left behind compared to elsewhere in the UK.”

Between Scotland’s two largest health boards NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and NHS Lothian, a small number of thrombectomies had been taking place since 2015, but these have now stopped due to an abscence of funding, which has meant a shortage of trained staff and suitable facilities.

Professor Jason Leitch, national clinical director of healthcare quality and strategy, said: “We fully support the development of thrombectomy services, which we believe can significantly improve outcomes and quality of life for people who have had an ischaemic stroke. Work is under way to develop a national plan that will meet our expectations for high quality, safe, effective and person centred care across Scotland.”