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In 2017, a procedure called thrombectomy was withdrawn from Scottish hospitals. That year, only 13 people received this life-changing treatment in Scotland – but as many as 600 people would benefit every year.
Thrombectomy is a highly specialised procedure that involves physically removing the blood clot in the brain which has caused a severe stroke. It’s not suitable for everyone who has a stroke, but it can help reduce disability and dependency.
Our campaign to Bring Back Thrombectomy saw over 4,000 people sign our petition. Together with stroke survivor Robert Baldock we met with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, saw coverage in the press and media, and questions asked in the Scottish Parliament. Campaign supporters met with their MSPs to tell them what the campaign meant to them, and we achieved the support of politicians from across the political spectrum.
Finally in November 2020, the first phase in delivering a national thrombectomy service got underway, with thrombectomies being provided for the first time at Ninewells hospital in Dundee, followed by an Edinburgh pilot service in September 2021. Eventually the two services will cover the north and east of Scotland.
The next step will be to establish a thrombectomy service in Glasgow to serve the east of the country, which is due to begin by 2023.
In November 2020 we held an online ‘meet the experts’ event, where campaign supporters put their questions about a thrombectomy service for Scotland to a panel of national stroke experts. We heard about the detailed preparations going into getting a national thrombectomy service up and running, and the progress being made.
Download the Meet the Experts Q&A
Thrombectomy campaigner Robert Baldock handing the petition to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman
Robert Baldock, 53 is a digital solutions designer from East Lothian. He suffered a severe stroke in 2017 which has left him with significant communication difficulties. Thrombectomy became Robert’s only chance of survival. He said:
“All I can remember of that morning is the ambulance crew trying to manoeuvre me down the narrow stairs of the cottage with great difficulty. I couldn’t move or speak. A scan revealed a large clot had caused my stroke. Normally you would have a clot busting drug to dissolve the clot and restore blood flow to the brain. However I was told this treatment wasn’t going to be effective for me. My carer Sharon and friends who were with me were told to prepare for the worst. Things didn’t look good at all.
“My only option was a thrombectomy. Thankfully, I was able to have the thrombectomy that saved my life. For me there was no other alternative. I am shocked to hear that I was one in only 13 people who received a thrombectomy in Scotland in 2017 when 600 people that year could have been eligible for the same treatment that I had.
“Recovery has been slow and I have been left with severe communication difficulties. I spent 10 weeks in hospital and a further 5 months in rehabilitation. Looking back my scariest moment was waiting to find out if I was going to be able to receive a life-saving thrombectomy and the stark possibility of not surviving if not. Since my stroke everything has changed but I survived and I have learnt to appreciate and savour what I have.”
Find out more about Thrombolysis and Thrombectomy
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