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National stroke audit reveals shortfall in community assessments

20 August 2014 - 4:17pm

Only 15 per cent of stroke patients are receiving a follow-up assessment at six months, according to the first national audit to collect these data.

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The audit showed that stroke patients received physiotherapy on just over half of the days during their hospital stay

The data, from the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP) sentinel stroke national audit programme (SSNAP), mark the first time the proportion of patients receiving a six-month review has been included in its three-monthly interactive report.

Six-month reviews are required by national clinical guidelines for stroke in England and Wales.

The audit results are based on 18,704 stroke patients discharged from inpatient care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 1 January and 31 March 2014.

Professor Tony Rudd, chair of the RCP intercollegiate stroke working party, said: ‘Collecting six month follow-up data for stroke patients is a difficult ask, but one which has the potential to drive improvements in stroke care by enabling processes of care to be linked to patient outcomes.’

The audit also showed that that stroke patients received physiotherapy on just over half of the days during their hospital stay.

Commenting on the overall results, Professor Rudd said the SSNAP was ‘an opportunity for physiotherapists to identify how physiotherapy measures in processes of care, including early assessments and intensity of therapy provision, are reflected in patient outcomes.’

Dr Cherry Kilbride, who is the CSP representative on the SSNAP, said there was wide variation in community provision for stroke follow-up, with some areas having a ‘black hole’ in provision.

She said: ‘We know there is inequality in what’s available, and we hope the SSNAP audit and its extended focus on following the patient trajectory into the community will help to drive improvement in community services, as we have seen in the acute services.’

CSP director of practice and development Natalie Beswetherick called the results ‘extremely disappointing’ and said ‘the continuing variation in terms of these findings is inexplicable.’

She said: ‘The very poor performance on people being reviewed at six months, while unsurprising, demonstrates the importance of these audits which highlight where improvements in the quality of care are still required.

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