STROKE patients from Bury could benefit from a “game-changing” treatment as Greater Manchester sets out plans to adopt a revolutionary procedure.
The region’s health bosses are taking steps to become one of a limited number of places in England to offer a mechanical thrombectomy.
The specialised procedure has been proved to significantly improve the chances of recovery for individuals who suffer from a severe form of stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become blocked.
The complicated procedure sees a 3ft-long catheter tube inserted into an artery, usually through the groin, and a wire-mesh stent is fed through it into the brain.
Once at the site of a clot the stent is used to trap it and remove the blockage, restoring blood flow immediately.
Trials have shown that survival rates and quality of life are dramatically improved when a patient undergoes the procedure within six hours of symptoms beginning to show.
NHS England estimated the annual cost to the health service of the treatment would be £38million. To date, the specialist treatment has only been available at a limited number of hospitals across the country but, last week, NHS England announced plans to roll it out nationally.
Khalil Kawafi, clinical lead at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said the region’s health bosses want to be one of the first to offer the treatment when it is phased in throughout the country later this year.
Greater Manchester has hyper acute stroke units at Fairfield Hospital in Bury, Salford Royal and Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.
Dr Kawafi said: “The procedure is very delicate and requires an interventional neuro-radiologist (INR).
“There are only 90 in the country and we need 300 to deliver the treatment nationally.
“This gives you an idea of how far away we are delivering this across the country.
“Luckily for us in Greater Manchester, Salford hospital has the ability to do this.
“At the moment there are three to four INRs in Salford with the view of appointing one more. So we are not as far away as some people.”
“A board has been formed and the first meeting a few months ago was a very successful one. To sum it up, everyone wants to get this to work.”
Working with a number of bodies across the region, a business plan is being created to submit to NHS England in the hope of securing backing and funding.
The NHS plans to introduce the procedure at all 24 neuroscience centres across England, eventually benefitting an estimated 8,000 patients a year.
While no time frame has been set for the roll out, if it came, Greater Manchester patients who qualified for the treatment — approximately just five to 10 per cent of the population — would be treated in Salford.
Juliet Bouverie, chief executive at the Stroke Association, added: “Thrombectomy is a real game changer which can save lives and reduce the chances of someone being severely disabled after a stroke.
“Stroke is the fourth biggest killer in the UK. Current treatments limited and do not always work. This could give thousands of stroke patients a chance of making a better recovery.” It could mean more stroke survivors living independently in their own homes, returning to work and taking control of their lives again as a result. And this will undoubtedly lower NHS and social care costs for stroke.”