MORE than 150 stroke victims in Sheffield are missing out on vital treatment each year because they do not get to hospital quickly enough.
Around 200 of the 1,000 people who suffer strokes in the city every year could benefit from the clot-busting drug thrombolysis, which can significantly reduce the chance of a stroke leading to long-term disability.
But in Sheffield only 40 to 50 are getting the drug, because they are not calling 999 quickly enough to get to hospital in time for the drug to be administered in its four-hour time frame.
Amanda Jones, stroke nurse consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “Elsewhere in the country hospitals are thrombolysing 15 to 20 per cent of their patients, but we are only thrombolysing four per cent.
“It is a real problem which we need to deal with. People are not dialling 999 quick enough.
“I think it’s a cultural thing in this city – people think it will all be fine, it’s Sheffield stoicism.
“Or they are waiting to see their GP.
“But it is really important that people know that every minute lost is a bit of brain lost.
“The message is that you have to call 999.”
Michael Naylor, aged 73, from Gleadless Town End, suffered a devastating stroke when he was 57.
His wife Irene, 69, knew what had happened, but instead of dialling 999, called a GP.
“His words were coming out jumbled and he fell to the ground.
“I recognised the signs. Luckily our GP sent an ambulance straight away and Michael got to hospital quickly.
“But now I would call 999.”
Michael, a grandfather of two, said: “I’ve been very lucky to live in a city with such good healthcare. I had a good hospital, a good nurse, great after care, and a wonderful wife.”
Since August 2010 ambulances have been taking suspected stroke victims straight to the Sheffield stroke unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, bypassing accident and emergency at the Northern General Hospital, in a bid to reduce treatment time.
Jacqui Crossley, stroke specialist at Yorkshire Ambulance Services, said people need to be aware strokes do not just affect elderly people, but can hit anyone of any age or ethnicity.
She said: “Stroke doesn’t just affect the elderly. Young people are just as vulnerable.
“The sooner the symptoms of stroke are recognised and an ambulance is called, the quicker the person will receive the early and vital treatment they need to increase their chances of survival and improve their chance of making a full recovery.”
n Life after a stroke: see page 16.
n Opinion - page 8