Stroke services in Wales are ‘substandard’

The results of the 2006 National Sentinel Audit for Stroke show that patients in Wales are more likely die from stroke, or if they survive will have higher levels of disability than in England or Northern Ireland.

The Audit, funded by the Healthcare Commission, was carried out on behalf of the Intercollegiate Stroke Group by the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP) Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit (CEEu), and covers 100 per cent of eligible hospitals in England and Wales.

The RCP believe that the late launch of a National Service Framework in Wales in 2006 has handicapped the development of specialist stroke services in Wales. Only 45 per cent of eligible hospitals in Wales (nine hospitals) have a stroke unit, compared with 97 per cent of eligible hospitals in England. Only three sites (15 per cent) have acute stroke unit provision.

The audit concludes that Wales needs to identify systems to raise the quality of stroke across the whole patient pathway, particularly through the development of stroke units.

Dr Tony Rudd, Chair of the Intercollegiate Stroke Network and Associate Director of the RCP Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit, said: 'While there have been some welcome improvements in the quality of stroke care over the last two years there are still too many patients who receive substandard care which is likely to result in higher death rates or greater disability than necessary. The failure of the majority of hospitals in Wales to offer stroke unit care is scandalous and needs urgent action'

The executive summary and recommendations are can be found on the RCP website (PDF link).

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