§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the required standard for specialist stroke services, set out in the national service framework for older people, will be in place by April 2004. 617W
§ Jacqui Smith
Our document, "Improvement, Expansion and Reform", which sets for the national health service a priorities and planning framework for 2003–06, makes clear that implementation of the older-people's national service framework is a top priority, and that the 2004 milestone around specialist stroke services is a key target.
There have been significant increases in the number of stroke physicians, the proportion of patients being treated in specialist stroke units and the number of patients returning home following hospital treatment. There have been important improvements in care. For example, 83 per cent, of patients are receiving brain scans to improve diagnosis, which is more than ever before, and over the last four years, the proportion of hospitals with specialist stroke units has gone up from 45 per cent, to 73 per cent. We also know that 83 per cent, of the hospitals already now have plans to have a specialist stroke service in place by April 2004.