There is strong evidence of the benefits to people who have had a stroke of their being admitted to a stroke unit within a day of the event. We monitor, on an annual basis, NHS boards’ performance against that element of the NHS Quality Improvement Scotland clinical standards for stroke.
To deliver further improvements consistently across the country, we are introducing a new health improvement, efficiency, access and treatment—HEAT—target from April. By March 2013, boards should ensure that 90 per cent of all patients admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of stroke get into a stroke unit on the day of admission or the following day. We have been working directly with all boards, including NHS Fife, to support them in developing that aspect of their local delivery plans.
On a recent visit to the Victoria hospital stroke unit, I was very impressed by and cannot praise highly enough the dedicated and highly trained nursing staff, who make such a difference to the recovery and quality of life of stroke victims in Fife. However, I was informed during my visit that, of the 23 beds in the unit, six were occupied by patients who no longer required an acute bed. What steps is the Scottish Government taking to support the NHS in ensuring that those who require such specialist care are not being denied access because of delayed discharges?
Patients in my constituency and throughout Fife deserve the best treatment that is available in an environment that is fit for purpose, and that gives stroke sufferers the best chance of recovery and allows the nursing staff to do their jobs.
I agree with Marilyn Livingstone that it is important that we avoid beds being taken up by people who are ready for discharge. That is why we have taken a strong national position on delayed discharge and why we have established the £70 million change fund to make the necessary fundamental changes. It is also why, in the past six weeks, I have twice met the leader of Fife Council and the chair of the health board to ensure that progress is made in Fife. They have been meeting weekly to monitor the improvements that have brought the number down to single figures.
I acknowledge Marilyn Livingstone’s interest in the subject. She came to a meeting with me to hear more about the work that needed to be done and I am happy to keep her informed of the progress that is being made in Fife. It is important that people have access to the beds that they need.