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Scan delay raises stroke harm risk

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Some stroke victims are being put at risk by delays in receiving brain scans, a charity claims

Some stroke victims are being put at risk by delays in receiving brain scans, a charity claims

Some stroke victims are being put at risk by delays in receiving brain scans, a charity claims

Some stroke victims in Northern Ireland are being put at risk of further harm by delays in receiving brain scans, a charity has claimed.

They are held for assessment when they should be sent to dedicated stroke units and screened more quickly, Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke chief executive Andrew Dougal said. Without prompt action there is an increased risk of brain damage.

Northern Ireland still lags well behind England where almost three quarters of stroke patients are brain scanned within a day, said Mr Dougal.

This is crucial in determining the kind of stroke the person has suffered, he added.

A report from the National Sentinel Stroke Audit showed that in Northern Ireland only half of patients spent 90% of their time in a stroke unit. This compares to 60% of patients in 2006.

While brain scanning within a day has increased from 40% in 2006 to 57% now, Northern Ireland still trails England which achieves 71% of stroke patients scanned within a day.

Mr Dougal added: "Time lost means loss of brain function for many. They are put into general medical assessment units and they should go directly under the care of the stroke team."

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He added: "We have been campaigning for stroke teams since 1999, they are just very slow and in Northern Ireland they have been the slowest in the whole of the UK."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said a regional stroke implementation group (RSIG) has been established to take forward and to oversee the implementation of all of the recommendations of the 2008 report Improving Stroke Services in NI which has provided a range of recommendations for improving services for stroke sufferers across Northern Ireland.

"There has been an overall improvement in the scores for Northern Ireland since the previous audit in 2008, with considerable improvement seen across rehabilitation services. Members of the RSIG will be keen to study the findings of this most recent audit," the spokeswoman added.


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