The Scalpel's Blog


NHS England expands commissioning for ‘game-changing’ stroke treatment

Stroke patients are set to benefit from the expansion of a ‘game changing’ treatment which has the capacity to decrease the risk of long-term disability and save the NHS millions in long-term health and social care costs.

Treating stroke victims and their families costs the NHS around £3bn a year and can be a devastating disease for patients to suffer from.

But this week NHS England has said it will help an estimated 8,000 patients through expanding its commissioning for mechanical thrombectomy to make it more widely available for patients with certain types of acute ischaemic stroke.

The procedure has been shown in trials to significantly improve survival and quality of life by restoring flow to the brain and limiting damage and harm to the patient.

Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, said: “This major national upgrade to stroke services puts the NHS at the leading edge of stroke care internationally.

“It’s another practical example of the NHS quietly expanding innovative modern care that will really benefit patients, but which tends to be invisible in the public debate about the NHS.”

His colleague Professor Tony Rudd, national director for stroke at NHS England, added: “The quality of care and survival rates for stroke are now at record levels, and NHS England is committed to fast-tracking new and effective treatments – particularly, as in this case, where they deliver long-term benefits for both patients and the taxpayer.

“We will therefore now be working with and investing in specialist stroke services across the country to ensure we can introduce this out to all patients who would benefit, as soon as possible.”

Juliet Bouverie, CEO of the Stroke Association, stated that the treatment was a “game changer that had a good chance of positively impacting on the lives of many stroke victims.

“This decision by NHS England could give thousands of critically ill stroke patients an increased chance of making a better recovery,” she said. “It could mean more stroke survivors living independently in their own homes, returning to work and taking control of their lives again as a result. And this will undoubtedly lower NHS and social care costs for stroke.”

“However, thrombectomy is a complicated procedure,” Bouverie admitted, adding that its delivery across England will need significant changes to NHS stroke services, as well as an increase in the number of trained professionals who can carry out the procedure to ensure as many people as possible have access to it.

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