Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, the country’s largest stroke care charity, is asking the Scottish Government to take action now, before it’s too late.
The call came as the latest report from the NHS Scottish Stroke Improvement Programme revealed key targets for accessing care were still significantly missed in 2019.
The charity fears that, with the added pressures of Covid-19 on the NHS and wider community services, stroke patients’ survival and recovery could be further put at risk.
The Stroke Care Bundle aims to reduce the risk of death and increase the likelihood of people returning home to recover.
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The bundle aims to ensure quick admission to a stroke unit as well as fast access to vital interventions like a brain scan, swallow screen and administering of aspirin.
But the national report showed bundle compliance was just 64 per cent across Scotland. While it was an improvement from 59 per cent in 2018, it still falls far short of the 80 per cent standard.
No Health Board in Scotland met that target and only four improved performance from last year – NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Tayside, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Highland. The rest saw no significant change.
Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive at Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, 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 targets and delivery of better stroke care stall or go backwards.
“We know coronavirus is putting the NHS under considerable pressure and it 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.”