Stroke care is improving but more work is needed

Stroke care in England has improved significantly in the past four years, a National Audit Office report shows.

A patient's chance of dying within 10 years of having a stroke has decreased from 71 per cent in 2006 to 67 per cent in 2010, say the authors.

The DoH launched the National Stroke Strategy in 2007 to address criticism suggesting stroke care had too low a priority within the NHS.

An additional £59 million has since been used to develop stroke services in England, with more funding expected over the next year.

Increased co-ordination and provision of care has led to more patients receiving thrombolysis and a greater proportion undergoing a brain scan within 24 hours of admission to hospital.

In addition, the DoH's advertising campaign Stroke: Act FAST has led to raised public awareness of stroke. In 2009 the number of phone calls to emergency services regarding suspected stroke rose by 54 per cent compared with 2008.

However, the report highlighted that there are still improvements to be made, and called on health and social services to work more closely to improve after-care.

The National Stroke Strategy recommends that all stroke patients are offered a review of their health and social care at six weeks, six months and annually thereafter.

However, less than a third of patients currently receive a follow-up appointment within six weeks of having a stroke.

Moreover, the report revealed regional variation and confusion about how follow-up should best be implemented, as well as the role that GPs should play in the after-care of stroke victims.

'Care for people who have had a stroke has significantly improved since we last reported,' said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office.

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