Stroke services are “top priority for NHS” says health minister

June 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

by Jennifer Rigby

The government has spent £105m improving stroke services since a new national strategy for the condition was introduced in 2007, it revealed today.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Ann Keen, said the government had provided the money, as well as extra funding for primary care trusts, to improve services for stroke patients, often considered the ‘poor relation’ of other medical conditions.

She said that stroke services was now a top priority for the NHS, one year after implementing the new national stroke framework.

Ms Keen told MPs:

“When the House last debated stroke services in July 2007, we had not introduced the stroke strategy for England.

“However, it is clear from the content of that debate that Members on both sides of the House were united in their wish to see services across the stroke pathway improved for what is one of the major health conditions, and one that has historically been regarded as a poor relation.”

Ms Keen said that since the strategy had been introduced, the government has provided £105m of central funds from 2008-2011 to support the implementation of the stroke strategy, on top of the extra funding for primary care trusts.

“We are aiming for a revolution in our stroke services,” she said.

“The strategy is a 10-year plan, and we are in only the first year – we have a long way to go.”

Of the £105m, £77m is being used to speed up improvements in acute and community services; £16m is being used for stroke-specific training for medical professionals; and £12m is being used to improve public and professional awareness of the symptoms of stroke – such as the Act FAST campaign launched in February.

FAST stands for face, arms, speech and time to call 999, if the person shows any of these symptoms. Keen said the advert had been seen by 92% of the population.

The government will now work on finalising the location of stroke centres in London and elsewhere; making sure a higher percentage of stroke patients are admitted immediately to a specialist unit; and improve the service provided by ambulances.


Entry filed under: Commons. Tags: , , , , , .

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