When I was at at school we were regularly encouraged by our excellent English teacher to write creative fiction. “However,” he warned us, “do not write a far-fetched tale that ends with the words ‘and then I woke up’. That is a cop out. Try to come up with a decent ending.”
Today is World Stroke Day 2020, no sorry that needs to be shouted above the coronavirus noise – TODAY IS WORLD STROKE DAY 2020 . You can read the thoughts of the Stroke Association’s director in Scotland about stroke care in Scotland here , so don’t just take my word for what follows.
Anyway, here is my piece of creative fiction dedicated to all English teachers everywhere. As you will see, I have not yet mastered the art of coming up with a decent ending – but then neither has the present Scottish Government.
29 October 2035
*sorry, Nicola Sturgeon, in 2035 it may not be you
“Fellow MSPs, today we mark International Stroke Day 2035. I am delighted to tell you that members of Scotland’s stroke community – clinicians, other health and social care professionals, charity reps, stroke survivors and carers – are joining us today in the Chamber to help us celebrate this important day.
“We have a lot to celebrate, and I want to remind you briefly of some of the successes of the last few years.
“If you are unfortunate enough to have a stroke today, you can be assured that the technology of mobile scanning means that whichever major hospital you are sent to will already know the details of your condition by the time you arrive.
“Our door to needle times – by which I mean the time from arrival in hospital to the moment you receive thrombolysis or other appropriate treatment – those times are the best in the UK and amongst the best in the world.
“Our hospital clinicians have benefited throughout the 2020s from a huge investment in training and resources which has not only raised their morale but has also resulted in fewer fatalities and a fantastic service for patients. The greatly increased levels of staffing and staff training for our stroke units have significantly improved the service. Importantly, the investment in a comprehensive thrombectomy service has meant that there has been a very significant reduction in the number of patients whose lives are blighted by disability. This has also resulted in huge savings to the health and social care service. These savings have been re-invested in long-term evidence-based rehabilitation services for stroke patients who require it – especially younger patients. Once again, our rigorous measurement of rehabilitation has shown our service to be among the best in Europe.
“So, I can honestly say we have a comprehensive stroke service – responsive and quick acting at the acute stage, thoroughly supportive at the rehabilitation stage and spearheaded by dynamic forward-looking leadership here in Edinburgh (sporadic applause) – no, not me, colleagues. I mean the dynamic professionals who have led enthusiastically from the front, learned from experience and research across the world, and worked energetically in genuine partnership with stroke charities and a fully committed Scottish Government.
“I know that many of you will remember the coronavirus health crisis of 2020. We realised then that we needed an effective rehabilitation service for Long-Covid sufferers and moved quickly to put it in place. I am pleased to say that we learned from that and have transformed rehabilitation from its Cinderella status to being on an equal footing with other health service provision for people suffering from a range of neurological conditions, including stroke, as well as those recovering from traumatic injuries. Indeed, I was delighted to welcome a delegation from Scandinavia here last week who were visiting our recently opened rehabilitation centre in Inverness, the latest to join centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen housed in now redundant city centre offices. They were particularly impressed by the provision of psychological support, by the way in which stroke survivors and their carers were fully involved in the process of rehabilitation and by the excellence of communication with local hospitals.
“Finally, a word to our stroke researchers. Without you there would be no progress and I know that many of you have benefited from the Scottish Government’s promise to quadruple action research funding, enabling researchers to work alongside patients and stroke professionals in stroke units and rehabilitation centres and not just in our universities.
“I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all who have helped us to achieve these successes.” (cue thunderous applause)
Then I woke up.