Stroke survivors 'being denied best recovery chance'

Mark Belsey says his neurological team stopped coming to see him 12 weeks after his stroke

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Many stroke survivors feel abandoned after they leave hospital and are being denied the chance to make the best recovery because of a lack of post-hospital care, a report suggests.

The Stroke Association review surveyed patients and carers across the UK and found survivors were facing a struggle.

Some went without regular assessments, or had difficulties seeing specialists.

The Department of Health admitted there was work to be done, but the government was focused on "driving up standards".

The report concluded local government and the NHS must do more to co-ordinate care.

'Abandoned'

Emergency hospital services, such as access to scans and life-saving treatment, are generally perceived to have improved in recent years. This has meant that more and more people are surviving strokes.

Case study

Ann Frewer has had to rely on others since she had a stroke in November last year.

The 75-year-old former nurse, who is a widow, was released from hospital without a care plan or any follow-up appointments.

"I was told to ask my neighbours for help, and if it had not been for their kindness, I would be sitting at home on my own, starving to death, as I cannot walk more than 150 yards.

"Sometimes I hear this called 'care in the community'. The reality is that it's more like sending you to prison. If you are on your own, it's more like solitary confinement."

There are now more than 1m stroke survivors in the UK, but 300,000 of those are living with moderate or severe disabilities.

Jon Barrick, of the Stroke Association, said it was clear more had to be done to help them after the charity received evidence from more than 2,000 patients and carers.

"Many stroke survivors tell us that after all the effort to save their lives, they then feel abandoned when they return home.

"The NHS and local authorities are failing in their responsibilities."

Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, agreed there was a problem.

He said: "We are really concerned about what happens to stroke survivors after they leave hospital.

"There is clear evidence that a significant lack of investment has led to a complete, or at least substantial, absence of services in many parts of the country."

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