Stroke victims getting worst rehab care

Stroke sufferers in Comet country are given some of the worst aftercare in the country a report claims.

The Care Quality Commission has ranked the nation’s primary care trusts according to how well they help people recover from strokes - the single biggest cause of disability in adults – with both Herts and Beds classed as ‘least-well performing’.

The report, published last week assessed 15 categories of care for stroke patients after they left hospital. Results in over half of these were poor at both trusts.

Research has shown that early access to intensive rehabilitation improves recovery rates.

Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the commission, said while improvements have been made in initial care for stroke victims, the level of aftercare at some trusts was a cause for concern.

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“It is vital that this momentum is maintained and that improvements are made in the care and support in the longer term,” she said.

“We expect to see local health and social services working with stroke survivors, carers and representative groups to agree and implement a plan to improve services.

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Esther Bolton, head of long-term conditions at NHS Bedfordshire, said the trust was disappointed with the findings. But added the trust was working to improve aftercare in line with improvements made in the “hours and days” after a stroke.

She said: “We provided a frank self-assessment of stroke care across Bedfordshire for this report, and whilst its findings are disappointing and highlight that there is still much work to do, it will be valuable in benchmarking our progress against our action plan.”

“We are already working closely with Bedford Hospital and our partners on a range of initiatives, including providing joint care plans and improved information on discharge from hospital, which are due to start in February. Other initiatives include reviewing stroke patients six months after leaving hospital, developing early supported discharge for eligible patients and offering improved psychological support.”

A spokesman for NHS Herts said the trust recognises the need to improve.

“To help us achieve this we have set up a new group whose aim is specifically to improve stroke care in Hertfordshire. Membership of the group comprises clinicians from hospitals and community health services, GPs, a carer representative and the PCT. By bringing together all those involved in providing and commissioning stroke care we will make sure that those areas identified by the CQC are addressed.

“We will continue to work with our public health and stop smoking teams to make sure that we do all we can to encourage people in Hertfordshire to look after their own health by not smoking and leading healthy lives. By doing this people can significantly reduce their risk of stroke and contracting other serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.”

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