Health service accused of 'abandoning' stroke victims

Stroke survivors are being "abandoned" by the NHS and denied the chance of making a proper recovery because of a lack of post-hospital care, a damming report claims today.

One of the largest ever surveys of stroke survivors in the UK reveals nearly four in 10 patients never get their treatment needs assessed after they have left hospital.

One in five said they had experienced services being withdrawn even though their needs had stayed the same or had increased, while half said the NHS did not co-ordinate well with social care services.

Without an assessment of need, stroke survivors cannot get access to services that are vital to making recovery possible. Experts suggested yesterday that cuts to funding for social care in recent NHS reforms are making matters worse.

"What the reforms are doing is increasing uncertainty," said Joe Corner, a spokesman for the Stroke Association, which carried out the report. "The problem of not getting assessments isn't a new one, but we are now finding that the funding that was available for strokes from social care budgets is drying up."

The report surveyed over 2,200 stroke sufferers and paints "a bleak picture" of care. It found 38 per cent of survivors (there are around one million in the UK) had never received an assessment of their health and social care needs, while 53 per cent of those whose stroke had occurred in the last three years have received only one assessment.

The National Stroke Strategy states that stroke survivors should receive an assessment at six weeks of leaving hospital, again at six months and then annually. The Stroke Association wants the policy to be followed.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Care of stroke patients in hospital has improved dramatically over recent years with the majority of patients now treated in specialist stroke units... We have established a programme which focuses on driving up standards for stroke patients by ensuring, among other things, that patients have a joint care plan prepared for them before they leave hospital."

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