Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, has condemned the Welsh Government for its approach to stroke treatment and prevention.
It follows evidence given to the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee, in which the Stroke Association claimed it had not been contacted by the government in relation to its Stroke Risk Reduction Action Plan.
In response to a question asking for its views, the Association said: “..following publication (in April 2010), we have not had any further correspondence regarding implementation despite being attributed as an organisation to deliver key actions in partnership with others’.
The Association went on to say that: ‘With a focus on working to remedy the failure of Wales to meet standards set out in the RCP National Stroke Audit which has been critical of Wales in terms of its delivery of stroke services within the acute setting; the work around stroke prevention has had less focus and resource, and yet it is vitally important if we are to prevent some of the 11,000 strokes which happen in Wales each year’.
The government’s own targets for stroke treatment have also not been met.
As of June 2011, only 87 per cent of stroke patients fell into criteria outlined in the Annual Operating framework for the Welsh NHS (details below).
Mr Millar said: “The Government’s attitude towards stroke treatment and prevention is casual at best.
“It stands to reason that the Stroke Association should have been identified as key partners within the risk reduction action plan. Yet they’ve not been contacted to discuss the implementation for well over a year.
“Welsh Labour Government Ministers must learn that glossy documents alone will never deliver improvements.
“Progress is clearly stalling - and in the meantime - over 11,000 new Welsh stroke patients and their families are suffering as a result.
“The treatment these people are receiving is also not up to the government’s own targets. As of June, thirteen per cent of patients are still not receiving access to specialist stroke teams or units.
“This is an area that needs immediate prioritisation and investment.
“I urge the Welsh Labour Government to get its act in gear – stop its budgetary cuts to the NHS – and give stroke services the attention they need.”
The 2010-11 Annual Operating Framework for NHS Wales states that:
‘By March 2010 organisations must have achieved:
• the co-location of stroke beds;
• services that ensure each patient suspected of, or confirmed as, having had a stroke are admitted to dedicated and co-located acute stroke beds staffed by a specialist multi-disciplinary medical and acute rehabilitation stroke team and to have demonstrated this by securing a positive outturn report from the Stroke Audit Tool assessment.’