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Health

Better Outcomes for Stroke Patients

Patients receiving thrombectomy procedures this year.

The first step towards a national thrombectomy service for stroke patients is underway with the launch of a pilot in the North of Scotland.

Thrombectomy is a highly skilled procedure in which blood clots are removed mechanically rather than broken down by medicines (thrombolysis). It is used to treat those with severe stroke and reduce their risk of long-term disability.

NHS Tayside developed a training programme in Mechanical Thrombectomy (MT), supported by the Scottish Government. Key staff were trained by Professor Iris Grunwald, one of the UK’s leading stroke thrombectomy interventional neuroradiologists, using advanced simulation techniques.

Initially the thrombectomy procedures in Dundee will be performed on patients in Tayside before the service is extended to patients across the North.

A fully operational 24/7 service is anticipated in Tayside by 2023, and will form part of a national network in line with the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government commitment.

In the West of Scotland, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus will provide a ‘hub’ thrombectomy service for the West of Scotland by 2023, while the NHS Lothian service will also be operating from the Little France site within the same timeframe.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Over the past 10 years, the number of people dying from stroke in Scotland has decreased by more than 35%. While this is significant progress, we can still achieve even better outcomes.

“A quality and clinically safe thrombectomy service is part of our wider commitment in this year’s Programme for Government to ensure those who experience severe stroke receive the best possible treatment and care.

“It is testament to our healthcare professions that we are now seeing this first step towards a national roll-out, despite the additional pressures placed on them during the pandemic and I want to thank them for their hard work.

“Funding will continue to be made available to other boards to develop the programme and the framework.”

Honorary consultant interventional radiologist in NHS Tayside Professor Graeme Houston said:

“We are delighted to be able to launch this service to provide mechanical thrombectomy for patients in the North of Scotland.

“Thrombectomy delivers a significant benefit for some patients who have sudden onset of stroke with significantly improved outcomes and a reduced level of disability.”

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Chief Executive Jane-Claire Judson said:

“It’s good that we are seeing tangible progress towards thrombectomies being available to stroke patients in Scotland.

“People in Scotland must be given the best possible chance of living without disability or dependency after a stroke. We know that at least 600 people a year in Scotland would benefit from a thrombectomy. Developing the skills to deliver this procedure is a key part of establishing the service in Scotland.

“This progress is being driven by inspirational stroke survivors campaigning for change. Together, we will keep campaigning to make sure that this game-changing stroke treatment is available as soon as possible.”