The “Better Heart Disease and Stroke Care Action Plan”, which is backed by over £1 million of funding each year, contains actions aimed at ensuring that people with stroke get access to effective, safe and person-centred care as quickly as possible. Full implementation will help to ensure that we maintain momentum and continue to improve the quality of care and support that is available to people with stroke.
NHS Scotland has made great progress in improving the outcomes for people with stroke. Between 1995 and 2010 we saw a 60 per cent reduction in the number of people who died prematurely from stroke. In 2011 stroke deaths fell by 5.7 per cent on the previous year.
I thank the minister for that response. He is probably aware of a survey that was conducted by the Stroke Association that states that over 42 per cent of patients lacked emotional support after their physical needs had been met. Can the minister reassure me that the figures are, in terms of emotional support for our patients, better in Scotland? What more can be done to reassure patients who are awaiting emotional support after their physical needs have been met?
I am aware of the Stroke Association’s survey, which rated hospital care in Scotland as being high. However, the report also recognises the need for further improvements, particularly around emotional and psychological support. Any healthcare condition can, of course, have a wider impact than the physical element, in terms of its impact on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of individuals and their families. That is why we recognise in our new mental health strategy the importance of providing a better response to conditions such as stroke, in order to provide the right type of emotional and psychological support.
A key element of addressing such issues is improvement of access to psychological therapies—or talking therapies, as they are often described. That is why we are committed to delivering faster access to psychological therapies and have underpinned that by a HEAT—health improvement, efficiency and governance, access and treatment—target that will ensure access to such therapies within 18 weeks, by December 2014. That will assist patients who have suffered a stroke to access the type of psychological support from which they may benefit and that may assist in their full recovery.