New figures show that 31,388 stroke patients missed out on treatment due to being outside of the time window when the treatment can be administered. This news come after the Independent Care Group blamed long ambulance queues last week on a lack of social funding.

A new report from the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) shows that rates of patients receiving thrombolysis, a lifesaving clot busting drug, has fallen from 10.7% in 2020/21 to 10.4% in 2021/22.

In addition, new ambulance response data released last week shows that more than 32,000 people with emergencies, including suspected stroke, who called an ambulance in October 2022 waited over two hours for it to arrive.

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Mike Padgham, Chair of Independent Care Group, said: “The gridlock in local hospitals is largely down to a lack of available care in the community for people when they are discharged.”

“It isn’t surprising that there is nowhere for hospital patients to go, and it will unfortunately continue to get worse until social care is reformed properly.”

Thrombolysis is a procedure where clot busting drugs are given to the patient, but they must be administered within 4.5 hours of onset of stroke symptoms starting to be safe and effective. Between 2016 and 2021, 34.2% of patients who failed to receive thrombolysis did so because they were outside of the time window and this has risen to 38.8% of patients in 2021-22.

Stroke units are under increasing pressure to treat patients. Worryingly, the proportion of ‘first class’ (A) and ‘excellent/quality’ (B) rated stroke services has declined from 70% ranked A and B in Jan – March 2020 to just over 37% in 2021/22. This is due to factors such as increased onset to arrival to hospital, which is now impacting on how many patients can have treatments such as thrombolysis.

A record 91,214 people had a stroke in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2021-22. 52% of acute stroke services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have a stroke consultant vacancy, with posts taking an average of 18 months to fill2.

Professor Martin James, Clinical Director of the national stroke audit SSNAP and a clinical trustee of the Stroke Association said: “SSNAP’s ninth Annual Report highlights some important improvements to stroke care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – particularly the year-on-year growth in access to thrombectomy for people with severe stroke.”

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