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Saving Lives: The Urgent Need for 24/7 Stroke Care

Have you ever had a moment where time seemed to freeze, where every second ticked like an eternity, and the future hung in a precarious balance? Paul McCausland knows that feeling all too well. His life took a drastic turn when he became a stroke victim at 37. What saved him wasn't just luck but the availability of a "game-changing" procedure called thrombectomy. However, here's the catch—it's only available during working hours in Northern Ireland. 


Imagine this: you or a loved one experiences a stroke, a medical emergency where every minute counts. The clock is ticking, and your best chance at survival and recovery lies in a procedure that's only accessible within a limited timeframe. That's the reality faced by many in Northern Ireland, where the thrombectomy procedure, which can prevent severe disability or even death, is confined to the narrow window between 8 am and 6 pm. 


The statistics are stark: every minute a stroke goes untreated, approximately 1.9 million brain cells die. Let that sink in. It's not just about minutes; it's about millions of cells that are crucial for our very being. For those who are admitted outside these limited hours, the wait until the next morning could mean the difference between a chance at a normal life and a devastating outcome. 


Paul McCausland's story is a testament to the impact of timely intervention. His wife had to make a gut-wrenching decision, signing a waiver that allowed surgeons to perform the thrombectomy. Fortunately, Paul was on the right side of those odds. But what about others who might not be as fortunate? What about those whose strokes occur during the night or early morning hours? 


This scenario serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for round-the-clock stroke care. The Stroke Association NI has been tirelessly advocating for this, urging the Health Minister to fulfil commitments made two years ago—to provide a 24/7 thrombectomy service by the end of 2024. This isn't just a matter of convenience; it's a matter of life and death. 


Alasdair O'Hara, Associate Director at the Stroke Association NI, sheds light on the challenges. While Northern Ireland boasts the highest thrombectomy rate in the UK, the service is still not available 24/7 due to constraints like staff shortages, inadequate funding, and limited resources. It's a heartbreaking reality that in the past year alone, approximately 100 potentially eligible patients may have missed out on thrombectomy, leading to more severe disabilities and, tragically, some deaths. 


The question we must ask ourselves is this: How many lives could be saved if this vital service were offered around the clock? It's not just about numbers but about individuals, families, and communities. It's about ensuring that when every second matters, no one is left waiting for crucial care. 


We often hear about healthcare systems facing challenges, but this is one area where immediate action can make an immense difference. It's about prioritising resources, training more professionals, and ensuring that no one is denied a chance at survival and recovery because of the time they fall ill. 


As individuals, we can also play a role. We can raise awareness, support organisations like the Stroke Association NI, and advocate for policy changes that prioritise 24/7 stroke care. It's a collective effort—one that can transform outcomes and give hope to countless individuals facing the frightening reality of a stroke. 


At Clinical24, we can help these facilities operate 24/7 by providing, qualified and competent healthcare staff. Whether you need Registered Nurses or support staff, our agents will connect you with the right candidates who will integrate with your team and requirements seamlessly.  


In the end, it's not just about Paul McCausland or those directly impacted by strokes. It's about all of us because none of us are immune to the possibility of a medical emergency. Let's work together to ensure that life-saving interventions are available when we need them the most. 


Reference: Belfast Telegraph - “Stroke victim (37) saved by ‘game-changing procedure’ – but it’s only available in NI during working hours.”