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Health Matters - community stroke service

Health Matters - community stroke service
22 August 2018

Dr Sarah Oliver, clinical lead for stroke care at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, and local GP

Rehabilitation after a stroke is so important. It aims to enable patients to make the maximum possible improvement following a stroke, which can have a devastating effect.

Eastern Cheshire patients who have suffered a stroke are set to benefit from a new community service that is due to launch next March and will offer specialist community rehabilitation in, or close to, their homes. This will reduce their length of stay in hospital after a stroke, and improve their experience of care and chances of making a good recovery.

Funding for the Integrated Community Stroke Rehabilitation Service was agreed in July by NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the body that funds local health services. It will bring together a wide range of health services. This includes specialist physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy in addition to care workers to help people recover physically, psychologically and socially following a stroke, once hospital treatment has ended.

Currently, patients are taken by paramedics to Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport; Salford Royal or Royal Stoke Hospital, depending on their location. This centralisation of emergency care means that patients now receive some of the best care and outcomes in the country. Patients have prompt 24/7 access to brain scans and clot-busting therapy (thrombolysis), where indicated, which has been proven to save lives and reduce the long-term disability for stroke survivors.

The structure of the new service has been shaped by events that the CCG held with stroke survivors, their families and carers, and after discussion with The Stroke Association and the Greater Manchester Stroke Network. We found out what worked well for patients, what didn’t, and what they felt was important immediately after the stroke, and in the longer term. Despite very positive feedback about the hospital care, we heard about delays in hospital discharge, or long waits back home, as community rehabilitation was not readily available.

Of course, prevention is better than cure, and it remains vitally important to reduce your chances of a stroke by checking and controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol, stopping smoking, and ensuring your pulse is regular. The Stroke Association has created a great website with more information. And remember the FAST campaign - Face-Arm-Speech-Time - if you suspect someone might be having a stroke - call 999. It could save their life.