Then suddenly he started losing speech and sight in his left eye.
“I had lost the ability to speak, so I couldn’t cry out for help. When I was home, my daughters were giggling as water came out of the left side of my mouth – they thought I was just doing something stupid,” he explained.
At the hospital, doctors discovered that Phil had had a TIA or mini-stroke and then suffered a major stroke caused by a blood clot while in hospital.
Scans soon revealed that Phil was a candidate for a thrombectomy, but he was then told the procedure was only available Monday through Friday, not weekends.
Phil will spend four months in hospital and two months in a wheelchair after his discharge, as he lost the use of his left side.
The dad had to undergo months of intensive physiotherapy, which he then had to continue on his own. He had to relearn how to walk and talk properly and still has a lot
struggled both physically and mentally since the stroke.
Phil said he was disappointed that despite qualifying for a thrombectomy, which could have changed his life in minutes, there were no services available to do the treatment.
“I was selfish and had my stroke over the weekend,” he said. I was angry because my hopes had been dashed and the treatment was only available on weekdays from 9am to 5pm. The staff members were all good people, but they were only asked to provide service on those days and times.
“It was a question of money and resources. There is no way to say that I would have had a better outcome with the thrombectomy, but the statistics show you that yes, I would have had a better quality of life with it, just like those around me.
Phil now works with the Stroke Association and with the local Integrated Stroke Delivery Network to raise awareness of the lived experience of stroke and to ensure that thrombectomy and other life-changing treatments are more widely available.
“Improved stroke care and access to the best treatments won’t benefit me now, it will benefit people tomorrow – it’s society at large. I chair a group of patients and caregivers to make sure stroke survivors and their loved ones have their voices heard,” said Phil.
“I want to make sure things like thrombectomy are always on the agenda. It’s not a service need that needs to be tested – it’s well proven, it’s well researched and proven.
Jennifer Gardner, Association Director for the North West at the Stroke Association, has seen some improvements in the region, but knows there is still more to do:
“Thrombectomy is a miracle treatment that keeps patients away from impending death and lessens the worst effects of stroke. It is shocking that so many patients are deprived of something and struggle with unnecessary disability. There are hardworking clinicians throughout the stroke journey who face an uphill struggle to provide this treatment and it’s time they got the support they need to make it happen. It’s really simple. Thrombectomy saves brains, saves money and changes lives.
“Since we commissioned the report, there have been steady signs of improving access to thrombectomy in the North West. There is real commitment and a progressive plan in place in Lancashire and the South of Cumbria to establish a 24/7 service It is also promising to see the improvements made to the existing stroke units and the funding that is also allocated.
“However, there is still an unacceptable postcode lottery for stroke treatment, at a time when tackling health inequalities is a key priority for the government and the NHS. Rates are gradually increasing due to the sustained efforts of national and local stroke teams, but progress is much slower than it should be. Tens of thousands of people will be missing, if rates remain
The Stroke Association argues that NHS England must address the challenges of transferring patients to and between hospitals in its next urgent urgent care plan.
The procedure can be done up to 24 hours after symptoms start, but is most effective in the first six hours. The sooner it is done, the better the results, which means ensuring ambulances are available to take patients to and between hospitals is essential to a good recovery.
Recent wait times for the North West Ambulance Service averaged 39 minutes, well above the 18-minute target for stroke calls.
Stroke Association says:
– For every 10 minutes of delay, the procedure has a 1% reduction in the chance of benefit for the patient
– For every minute a stroke goes untreated, 1.9 million brain cells die
– More than one stroke in eight (13.2%) is fatal
– Two-thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability
The Stroke Association is also asking [area/s] to follow up on their review of the quality of thrombectomy[s] to address pathway issues that are holding back improvement in their thrombectomy rate, saying
– There are more than 75,000 strokes in England each year.
– About. one in 10 (10%) of all stroke patients – a stroke where the clot gets trapped in a larger blood vessel – would benefit from thrombectomy
– Nearly four in 10 (39%) patients who have undergone thrombectomy have reduced disability following the procedure.