Programme Progress

Since the development of the NCP for stroke in 2010, there have been significant changes in how stroke services are delivered. Mortality from ischaemic stroke has fallen to single-digit figures for the first time in the history of the country and is the result of better stroke prevention strategies, better stroke unit care, wider availability of thrombolysis (drug mediated clot-dissolving treatment) and the commencement of a thrombectomy (mechanical retrieval of clot) service. Mortality from haemorrhagic stroke has also fallen over the last 10 years, although it remains an area for improvement. The development of Early Supported Discharge (ESD) teams has meant that patients now have access to expert stroke-specific rehabilitation in their own homes.

Stroke can affect all ages but is predominantly a condition that affects older people. As a result of our ageing population, the burden of stroke in Ireland could increase by 58% over the next 5-10 years. It is vital that our acute services are robustly resourced to meet this challenge while we also focus on emerging preventative strategies over time. The NCP for stroke has written a 5-year strategy to mitigate against the predicted increased burden of stroke through the reduced incidence of stroke by effective prevention strategies, improved outcomes after stroke by organised systems of modern stroke treatment and by supporting a strong educational and research programme for stroke in Ireland. It is anticipated that the strategy will provide a guide to optimal prevention and treatment of stroke to improve the quality of care for all people affected by stroke as well as identifying areas for improvement and investment for the health service.

The strategy presented for Ireland is fully in line with the Stroke Action Plan for Europe (SAP-E) and represents a comprehensive approach to our stroke services across the realms of prevention, acute care, restoration to life after stroke and research and education in stroke for the next 5 years. It is an ambitious strategy at a time of great challenges for our economy and healthcare system but we are confident it will pay significant dividend for patients, the healthcare system and society as a whole. The National Stroke Strategy will be published on the 29th of October, 2022, World Stroke Day.