The Scottish Government took almost three years to replace guidelines for doctors treating stroke patients, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed.
Guidelines from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) on stroke care were withdrawn in June 2020 due to being more than ten years old.
Then health secretary Humza Yousaf told Lib Dems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton in February 2022 that new guidelines would be in place by February 2023 but this was subsequently pushed back to April 2023.
The guidelines were published on April 4, 1,007 days after the previous guidelines were withdrawn.
Stroke is the third most common cause of death in Scotland and the most common cause of severe physical disability among adults, the Scottish Stroke Care Audit said.
It is estimated around 15,000 people in Scotland have a stroke each year.
In December 2022, doctors and charities urged the Scottish Government to reverse cuts in funding for thrombectomy amid fears that it would leave hundreds of stroke patients avoidably disabled.
Cole-Hamilton said: “This is yet another example of Humza Yousaf allowing deadlines to go sailing by. While his head is turned by the bin fire in his party, Scots are struggling to get up-to-date treatment across our health service.
“Patients will be deeply concerned that it took more than 1,000 days for new stroke treatment guidelines to be put in place.
“There will always be a need to update guidance as best practice develops over time but there is no reason why doctors and their patients should be left with a significant gap between the expiry of one set of guidelines and the implementation of the next.
“In small ways and big ones, our health service is being seriously undermined by the inability of SNP ministers to plan ahead.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Royal College of Physicians Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party (ICSWP) led on the development of the sixth edition of the National Clinical Guideline for Stroke on a four nations basis. The guidelines were published in April 2023 and were immediately implemented in Scotland.
“The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), which was involved in the development process so that the revised guidelines were applicable for use in Scotland, had provided recommendations for healthcare professionals to use other up-to-date evidence-based guidelines to inform practice while the guidelines were prepared.
“We remain committed to introducing a high quality and clinically safe thrombectomy service in Scotland. The delivery of a national thrombectomy service has, to date, received over £16m of investment.”
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