Postcode lottery takes another life due to treatment 'not available at weekends'

Sarah with her partner Andy MacDonald
Sarah with her partner Andy MacDonald -Credit:Family photo

A much-loved wife died when she suffered a catastrophic stroke at a time when life-saving treatment wasn't available at weekends.

Edna Moss died at Rivington Park Nursing Home in Chorley in February last year. The 79-year-old had previously been admitted to hospital with a stroke but a procedure which could have saved her life wasn't available at weekends.

The procedure, a thrombectomy, involves using a specially-designed device inserted through a catheter to pull or suck out the clot and restore blood flow. A coroner has this month ruled that not having the procedure contributed to the death of Bolton-born Mrs Moss.

Following an inquest into the death of Mrs Moss, held earlier this month, Area Coroner Chris Long returned a narrative conclusion and said: "Edna Moss died on 9 February 2023 at Rivington Park Nursing Home, Chorley in Lancashire.


"Mrs Moss was admitted to hospital with a stroke which was treated with thrombolysis. Evidence was heard that the stroke was severe and thrombectomy treatment was appropriate but was not available at the weekend, which contributed to her death."

The lack of a 24/7 thrombectomy service in Lancashire was highlighted last year following the death of 31-year-old Sarah Read from Burnley. Sarah died in August 2022 after she missed the 'deadline' for a life-saving procedure.

Since October 2021 NHS England has commissioned Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to provide a thrombectomy service, between 9am and 5pm, seven days a week, to cover Lancashire and South Cumbria. However, difficulties in recruiting and retaining the specialists needed to perform the procedure, it is not yet available 24/7.

In 2016 Phil Woodford from Preston missed out on a miracle treatment because he too had a stroke out-of-hours. Phil, who worked in the NHS himself, said in 2022: "Thrombectomy acts really quickly as some people can walk home the day after. The treatment is at its most effective six hours after the stroke."

Following an inquest into Sarah's death Area Coroner Chris Long issued a report which called on NHS England to make changes. In his response Professor Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, confirmed that, as of this September, the thrombectomy service will operate from Preston 24/7.

He said: "Since September 2023, and following a successful recruitment campaign, the Trust has been able to increase its number of interventional Radiologists to enable the service to operate seven days a week, 8am to 6pm.

"A further expansion plan is now in place, with the ambition to further extend the hours to between 8am and 11pm seven days a week from April 2024 and for the service to operated 24/7 from September 2024."