We need a new era for stroke services

Much needs to be done to improve stroke care. David Bridson puts the case for a new national strategy in England.

As physiotherapists you know more than anyone how vital it is that someone who has suffered a stroke gets the therapy they need to make a good recovery. We at the Stroke Association hear all too often that the care people receive is excellent but it takes too long to start and patients just don’t get enough. With a quarter of strokes happening to people of working age, it’s vital they receive the best chance of a recovery. 
However, the National Stroke Strategy comes to an end next year. This means there will be nothing in place to drive forward the specific improvements stroke survivors need.
Tony McKevitt, from Liverpool, was 47 when he had a stroke and was later discharged to a nursing home. He was in a wheelchair and had no access to rehabilitation, his condition did not improve and his morale suffered. Eventually a member of the Stroke Association team arranged physiotherapy for him and he can now take a few steps. With the ongoing support from the rehab team he hopes one day to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle. 
The care patients get after a stroke depends on where they live. We know physio staff do a fantastic job but there must be improvements at a national level so that more people benefit from their interventions. 
The National Stroke Strategy has led to huge improvements,  such as a 46 per cent drop in the mortality rate and an increase in people accessing the right treatments in stroke units. The government now feels the stroke strategy is no longer needed – we disagree as we know that improvements, especially in post-acute care such as physiotherapy, still need to be driven forward at a national level. 
We are delighted that the CSP, in conjunction with other clinical bodies, has joined our call for a new national stroke strategy. The CSP has played a crucial role in helping the core group of clinicians to reach a consensus over what this statement of intent should include. 
The statement addresses the following areas: improving prevention specific to stroke; implementing a plan for the national roll-out of new treatments; and improving post-acute care to enable people to receive the rehabilitation they need to make the best recovery possible.
We hope that this clinical backing, along with the support of 50,000 people who have signed our petition, can bring about change and create a new era for stroke – where people like Tony get the care and support they deserve, regardless of where they live.
  • David Bridson is campaigns officer, the Stroke Association

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David Bridson is campaigns officer, the Stroke Association

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