Thompsons Solicitors has welcomed NHS England plans to introduce a new emergency stroke treatment across the country, but warned more trained staff will be needed to maximise its impact. 

At least 8,000 patients a year could benefit from plans to make mechanical thrombectomy more widely available to those with certain types of acute ischaemic stroke, a severe form of the condition that often leads to long-term disability.

"Responding quickly with the right treatment after a stroke can mean the difference between life and death, and impact survivors’ quality of life. But thrombectomies are not simple procedures and, to ensure this commitment to patients can be fully realised, there will need to be an adequate number of staff trained to carry out the procedure across the country."

Gwen Kirby-Dent
senior serious injury and clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors.

When administered within six hours of stroke symptoms developing, the treatment can improve patients’ survival and quality of life by helping to restore blood flow, thereby limiting brain damage. 

The service will be phased in at 24 neuroscience centres across England, starting later this year, with an estimated 1,000 patients set to benefit in the first year.  

But, to be effective, Thompsons Solicitors warned there will need to be serious investment in NHS stroke services – particularly in staff trained to carry out the complicated procedure. 

“Amid dangerous budget cuts and numerous reports of an NHS in crisis, the move to introduce this important treatment to NHS patients is encouraging,” said Gwen Kirby-Dent, a senior serious injury and clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors.

“Responding quickly with the right treatment after a stroke can mean the difference between life and death, and impact survivors’ quality of life. But thrombectomies are not simple procedures and, to ensure this commitment to patients can be fully realised, there will need to be an adequate number of staff trained to carry out the procedure across the country.” 

Such an investment would make financial sense for both the NHS and UK. According to NHS England, strokes cost the health service around £3 billion a year, and the UK economy another £4 billion in lost productivity, disability and informal care. 

Ms Kirby-Dent added: “In addition to the obvious impact this new treatment would have on patients’ capacity to regain independence, it also promises to alleviate pressure on ballooning social care costs. Investing not only in this brilliant treatment, but in the staff who will administer it, seems like a win-win.”