According to a Welsh man, his 55-year-old father may have died because the British national health system failed to treat him when he suffered a stroke on a Sunday.
Colin Rogers, 55, suffered a basilar artery occlusion on April 14, which he could have survived if he had undergone a thrombectomy, which removes a blood clot from the brain.
Instead, Rogers was taken to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil. The University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff could have performed the procedure, but enough specialists staff were reportedly not available. Rogers died on April 18.
His son Callum, 26, stated, “Although we don’t know what the outcome would have been, this potentially could have saved his life. My dad was denied the chance of survival as Wales does not have access to this treatment and doesn’t have any units. We were also told [by a stroke consultant] that if he fell ill on a weekday they would have had a chance to transfer him to a specialist unit in England. Because this was a Sunday it was impossible. To find this out is just gut-wrenching.”
Colin Rogers’ family issued a statement saying, “Up to 500 people a year in Wales may die or be left profoundly disabled because of a lack of availability of endovascular thrombectomy. This has to be done within 24 hours or it is too late. Colin is not the only person to have died because of this postcode lottery and this is not a new problem. We want to change this. We want to raise awareness and campaign for equal access for patients such as Colin, who will die or live a profoundly disabled life without treatment. We want to make a difference so that people are not failed by the system as Colin was.”
A spokeswoman from the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) stated:
Whilst we do not comment on individual cases the general position in Wales is that WHSSC took on the commissioning of mechanical thrombectomy from April 2019. Prior to this individual health boards commissioned the service directly from providers. In south Wales, WHSSC accesses treatment from provider hospitals in Cardiff and Bristol on a case-by-case basis dependent on the capacity available at the hospitals when required. The capacity depends on the availability of specialist staff able to carry out the procedure which has varied over time.
The University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, has recently recruited a second consultant who is due to start in autumn 2019, allowing the service to be developed further. Treatment for patients from mid Wales and north Wales is usually commissioned from hospitals in the Midlands or Liverpool, again dependent on the availability of specialist staff. To the extent that specialist staff are available, this is a seven day a week service.
A basilar artery occlusion (BAO) starts with variable and stuttering symptoms which can cause a delay in diagnosis; the attack has high morbidity and mortality. BAOs represent 1% to 4% of all ischemic strokes.
A fundraising page has been created to push for 24-7 access for clot-removal treatment.