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Alasdair O’Hara, Associate Director for the Stroke Association in Northern Ireland, has responded to the new Stroke Action Plan published by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland today.

“We’re pleased that the Minister has outlined next steps for much-needed stroke reform in Northern Ireland. This is something we’ve been calling for, alongside many others in the stroke community, for the past three years.

"However, it’s disappointing that we’re still awaiting a decision on the introduction of hyperacute centres of excellence, particularly as the Minister has recently announced wider plans to reshape hospital services. This will undoubtedly cause further uncertainty for people affected by stroke and for the dedicated and hard-working professionals working in stroke care. 

"However, the new action plan outlines positive steps that can be taken forward now in the areas of thrombolysis, thrombectomy, rehabilitation and long-term support. 

"There is still much to be done though to ensure that stroke patients and survivors receive the services they need and to deal with the projected increased demand for stroke services over the coming years. We know that budget uncertainty and workforce pressures will make transformation and reform challenging. However, Northern Ireland must not fall behind in terms of providing a progressive stroke service.

"That’s why we want the Department of Health to now work together with the stroke community to coproduce an ambitious long-term vision and plan for stroke in Northern Ireland.” 

Kim Colhoun had her stroke in 2017. She received the life-changing clot-removal procedure thrombectomy but was shocked to find out it’s not available 24/7 for all patients who need it. Responding to the action plan today, Kim says: 

“I am really pleased that the further expansion of the thrombectomy service is included in the new action plan. It is a life-changing procedure which I was fortunate enough to access when I had my stroke five years ago and everyone who is eligible should have that same opportunity."