Stroke Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:21 pm on 5th December 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 7:21 pm, 5th December 2017

What a pleasure it is to see you, Madam Deputy Speaker; it has been a while. I knew that my hon. Friend Sir David Amess would get in a mention of Southend becoming a city. I was only disappointed that it did not happen earlier in his speech, but he managed it in the very last line. I will show great diplomacy and leave that matter to the Ministers responsible. I congratulate him on securing another Adjournment debate—we have done this before—which is on stroke services this time. As ever, he set out his case brilliantly and with such passion. He gives newer parliamentarians a real lesson in how to handle debates in this House.

As my hon. Friend said and as so many of us know, stroke is a devastating disease for patients and their families. He is right that there are currently 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK, with more than 1,350 in my hon. Friend’s constituency alone. Jim Shannon, who is in his place as always at these debates, is absolutely right that stroke is predominantly a condition that affects older people. But it does affect younger people. I have met people of my age and younger who have been affected by stroke. Obviously, it is clinically debilitating, but it also comes as a great shock to their friends and families, who are taken aback by this happening to young people.

So many NHS staff work in multidisciplinary teams on stroke, and I pay tribute to them. There are nurses, consultants and speech and language therapists—the speechies, one of whom I am married to, so I will get brownie points for this—as well as physios, occupational therapists and specialist nurses, who all do so much when somebody suffers a stroke. The Stroke Association, which has already been mentioned, is an absolutely first-rate charity and a real partner for the Government. I also commend my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West for his strong work in driving improvements to stroke services both nationally and within his constituency. I know that he has taken a long interest in health matters, including stroke, as an MP. I reiterate his comments about the high-quality service provided by Southend stroke unit—more on that in a moment.

My hon. Friend will no doubt agree—he said this of course—that, in general, stroke services across the country are performing really well. Let me just reiterate some of the figures. Thirty-day mortality has dropped from 30% in 1998 to just over 13% in 2015-16—a huge improvement. The percentage of patients scanned within one hour of arriving at hospital, which is so critical, has increased from 42% in 2013-14 to over 51% in just three years, and the percentage scanned within 12 hours has increased from 85% to 94% in the same period.

There are many public health campaigns that we remember throughout the years, but the Act FAST campaign that public health campaigners and the Stroke Association have done is something we see and do not forget, and that, of course, was the intention.

Excellent progress has been made in the treatment of stroke over recent years. It is important that this programme continues and that the gains are built on, especially given the demographic changes we know are coming down the track with our much talked off and much publicised obesity challenge and our ageing population. That is why we published the cardiovascular disease outcomes strategy in 2013.

There is ongoing work in virtually all parts of the country to organise acute stroke care to ensure that all stroke patients have access to high-quality specialist care, regardless of where they live or what time of day or week they have their event. Although the national stroke strategy comes to an end shortly, as my hon. Friend said, NHS England continues to lead an effective programme of work on prevention and treatment. We are continuing to work closely together to improve acute treatment through the centralisation of care in centres that can provide the highest level of care and treatment at all times of the day and night.

Decisions on whether the strategy should be renewed are, of course, a matter for NHS England, but in liaison with Ministers. My understanding is that NHS England does not have current plans to renew it in the same form, but it is a subject that I, as the relatively new Minister, encouraged, of course, by my hon. Friend’s debate, plan to discuss with NHS England early in the new year. I would welcome my hon. Friend’s involvement —and that of other Members—if he wishes to feed into that.