Stroke victims will get a brain scan within an hour under a new 10-year government strategy to improve survival rates.

The strategy, due to be unveiled by health secretary Alan Johnson yesterday, aims to give patients quicker access to brain scans and life-saving drug treatment in the hope of cutting deaths and cases of disability.

Patients suffering a full stroke should get a brain scan in the next available slot in working hours, while out of hours they should get one within an hour before being moved to a stroke unit. Higher risk people suffering a minor stroke should be seen within 24 hours.

Studies show patients who have strokes confirmed and get clot- busting drugs quickly have a higher chance of survival. The strategy also says patients at low risk of full stroke should also be seen within a week - which the government believes could cut by 80 per cent the number who suffer a full stroke.

Joe Korner, director of external affairs at the Stroke Association, said: 'The announcement presents the best chance in a generation to tackle the scourge of stroke.'