Scotland is failing thousands of stroke patients

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Stroke survivors are struggling with long-term disabilities because of failures in the care provided in Scottish hospitals and communities, says CHSS

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10th July 2018 by Susan Smith 1 Comment

Scots who have survived a stroke are are being left with inadequate after-care in the community, according to a new NHS report.

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) said the report highlights an "alarming" decline in access to rehabilition services.

Around 10,000 Scots have a stroke every year but CHSS says the lack of improvement in community based care and support for survivors is disappointing.

Paul Okroj, director of communications at CHSS, said: “Every single day 25 people have a stroke and it’s the single biggest cause of disability in Scotland. Many people experience fear and isolation and are struggling from the impact of having a stroke on their lives.

“It’s disappointing that there is a continuing lack of progress in rehabilitation each year and people are not getting the care and support they need.

“With 124,000 people in Scotland living with the impact of stroke after diagnosis, the decline of access to on-going rehabilitation and support for people living in our communities is alarming.”

The report has shown that progress has been made with acute services in hospitals, but that there has been a lack of evidence regarding the support for people transitioning back into the community and ensuring that people achieve what matters to them following their stroke.

CHSS would like to see routine measurement of long-term outcomes for stroke survivors that are focussed on quality of life.

The charity also criticised the complete withdrawal of thrombectomy procedures from Scottish hospitals.

Despite research demonstrating that people who have benefitted from thrombectomy, a highly-specialised procedure that involves removing blood clots from the brain with a thin tube, have lower levels of disability and are able to better care for themselves after their stroke, no resources have been allocated to carry out the procedure within Scotland.

A national committee has been established to plan a Scottish thrombectomy service, but the process is slow and consequently some patients have been left with worse outcomes and significant disability after a stroke.

In 2017, only 13 people received this treatment, and currently no centre in Scotland is providing this. The Scottish Stroke Care Audit identifies around 600 Scots a year as potentially benefiting from this life changing treatment.

Okroj added: “Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland alongside The Stroke Association are calling for the provision of thrombectomy in Scotland to be tackled as a priority by the Scottish Government, with national funding identified by the NHS. Those eligible stroke patients in Scotland deserve the same access to this life-changing treatment as the rest of the UK.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our Stroke Improvement Plan sets out a comprehensive programme for further reducing the number of deaths from stroke and improving stroke treatment and care.

“This includes identifying community based care as a priority area of improvement by establishing stroke specialist discharge and community teams to help those recovering from a stroke to live longer, healthier and independent lives as well as reducing the length of hospital stays.

“Our Scottish Stroke Improvement Programme Coordinator works with Health Boards and their Managed Clinical Networks for stroke to support all staff to further improve, share good practice across Scotland and develop tools and resources to build capacity, knowledge and skills.”

Community support transformed life for Fiona

Scotland is failing thousands of stroke patients

Fiona Dickens, 64, suffered a stroke nine years ago on New Years’ Eve. Fiona was out shopping when she collapsed on the pavement in the snow. Passers-by helped her to her car on the street and when her husband Paul returned to the car and found Fiona very confused. Luckily people stayed with her and were able to explain what had happened. Paul quickly realised she had had a stroke and rushed her to hospital.

Fiona was admitted, diagnosed quickly and thrombolysed. Fiona felt very confused around this time, she was left with aphasia; she had no speech. She was unable to ask questions about what was happening to her or even speak to her husband or son.

Fiona attended rehabilitation and stroke therapy for several months. Once home Fiona found that her communication and confidence had plateaued. Fiona began to attend CHSS’s Rehabilitation Support service and was given one to one communication support from the coordinator.  

She felt her speech improved greatly: “My speech improved so much with their help. I can’t thank them enough. CHSS got involved and stayed involved.”

Fiona now volunteers in one of CHSS’s shops and at one of its peer support groups, where she helps support others with communication difficulties following stroke.

Fiona continued: “Life would be boring if I didn’t have CHSS. I would be more isolated and would have less to do.”

CHSS’s new strategy, No Life Half Lived, aims to address the unmet needs of stroke survivors in Scottish communities to support people to live their lives to the full.  

The charity hopes that by 2021 it will double the number of people it supports, increasing the support available through our specialist nurses, rehabilitation support, community groups, volunteering, advice and information.

11th July 2018 by Howard Fleming

Social care has disintegrated in the capital Edinburgh only the selected favourites basically those who are related to the council are recieving the care they are entitled too. all three people in my house are disabled and my wife had her direct payment taken away last year none of us receive any service from the council or social work at all no direct payment not even a social worker the system has disintegrated heads should be rolling.