Stroke patients in England 'die needlessly or suffer more serious disability than they should' because they continue to be denied fast access to brain scans and clot-busting drugs, according to a report published by the Commons public accounts committee.

Stroke patients in England 'die needlessly or suffer more serious disability than they should' because they continue to be denied fast access to brain scans and clot-busting drugs, according to a report published by the Commons public accounts committee.

Despite the fact that stroke is the leading cause of adult disability, affecting more than 110,000 people a year and costing the NHS£2.8bn, MPs say stroke patients continue to receive inferior care compared with many European nations. The committee says the NHS continues to perceive stroke as an inevitable illness of old age with little done for patients other than making them comfortable.

The most recent clinical audit showed that just 22 per cent of stroke patients had a scan on the same day as the stroke, and most waited two days.

The committee calls on the NHS to ensure all patients are scanned within three hours of admission and no-one should wait more than 24 hours.

The report says patients in Sweden take an average of three to five hours to arrive at a stroke unit with early assessment of access to rehabilitation. In England, the median time to arrival on a stroke unit is two days and access to rehabilitation is 'patchy within and between hospitals'.

It has called on the Department of Health to benchmark performance in these key performance indicators with other leading countries in order to identify areas where further lessons may be learned.