MPs blast 'totally unacceptable' stroke care variation

Variations in stroke care between hospitals in England remain 'totally unacceptable', the House of Commons committee of public accounts has warned.

NHS FAST stroke awareness media campaign
NHS FAST stroke awareness media campaign

The committee published a report on Tuesday into the lessons to be learned from implementing the stroke strategy.

The committee said the DoH should be congratulated for the FAST stroke awareness media campaign, which it said was ‘excellent' and had raised staff and public awareness of stroke.

But committee chairman Edward Leigh (Conservative, Gainsborough in Lincolnshire) also highlighted variations in the timeliness of scans provided in hospitals and the quality of specialist stroke care.

‘It is totally unacceptable that the likelihood of receiving a timely brain scan or accessing specialist care depends on where and when you have a stroke,' he said.

‘In 2008, of all patients with suspected stroke, only three-fifths had been scanned within 24 hours. It is also worrying that, despite every hospital having a specialist stroke unit, too many stroke patients fail to be admitted to units quickly enough or spend enough time on the units.'

Improvements in the provision of post-hospital support have also not matched developments in other areas, the committee warned. Too many patients, once discharged from hospital, face a postcode lottery when seeking follow-up support and rehabilitation services, it said.

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