Steps must be taken to address staffing and facilities shortages in stroke rehab, say Lords

The government was told in the House of Lords to ensure that stroke services are fully resourced to deliver 'personalised, needs-based, goal-orientated rehabilitation to every stroke patient'. 

Baroness Wheeler of Blackfriars
Baroness Wheeler of Blackfriars

Following a CSP briefing highlighting patchy access to stroke rehab Baroness Wheeler of Blackfriars asked parliamentary under secretary of state Nick Markham about government’s plans to expand the national integrated community stroke service to ensure better access to stroke rehab. 

Baroness Wheeler said: 'Strokes cost the NHS £3.4 billion a year and social care £2.3 billion in year one, with another £2 billion on top of that for every subsequent year.' 

She went on to ask the minister about specific plans to ensure access to specialist rehab immediately following a stroke and about 'the 68 per cent of stroke sufferers who currently do not get an assessment, let alone rehab treatment, after hospital discharge?'

Lord Patel
Lord Patel highlighted the increased risk of disability

Lord Patel highlighted the increased risk of disability for people who miss out on rehab while other peers emphasised additional challenges faced by stroke survivors including loss of muscle mass from long hospital stays, and higher levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness experienced. 

Workforce challenges

Highlighting the 'vital rehabilitation work' by physiotherapists, Lord Markham acknowledged the importance of ensuring that the national integrated community stroke service is 'fully resourced' and the need to 'address the workforce challenges in stroke rehabilitation and community services.'

He confirmed that physio services are an 'important part' of the long-awaited NHS workforce plan and promised to follow up with the NHS to see what plans are in place to monitor uniformity of stroke rehab services. 

Patchy access to stroke rehab

Sara Hazzard, CSP assistant director of strategic communication and co-chair of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance, welcomed the spotlight placed on stroke rehab in parliament.

She said: 'The Lords are right to highlight patchy access to stroke rehab in England. Lack of timely and equitable access increases risk of disability and exacerbates health inequity. Currently many people do not even receive the minimum specialist rehab required following a stroke despite clear evidence it can significantly improve their quality of life and reduce risk of further strokes. 

Parliamentary under secretary of state Nick Markham
Parliamentary under secretary of state Nick Markham

'Access to high quality personalised rehab is dependent on suitable rehab space and adequate staffing. So we welcome the minister’s assurance in the discussion that physio services are an important part of the upcoming workforce plan. 

'We are also pleased to hear that he recently met with NHS England CEO Amanda Pritchard, to discuss issues around access to rehab space. We are however concerned that the minister has yet to send his promised letter to all NHS CEOs on the need to provide rehab facilities and would urge him to do so as a matter of urgency'. 

Last month we reported that Lord Markham promised during a Lords debate to write to NHS CEOs to urge the return of rehab facilities that were converted into overspill wards and storage during the pandemic

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