Stroke patients ‘are being abandoned when they leave hospital with 40% never assessed for their needs’
00:53 GMT, 1 May 2012
Many stroke survivors feel abandoned when they get home from hospital, and are missing out on vital services such as physiotherapy
Two out of five stroke survivors are abandoned after they leave hospital and never get an assessment for their health and social care needs, warns a new report.
Hundreds of thousands of stroke patients are missing out on services such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, and help with washing and dressing that could allow them maintain their independence at home, it says.
Guidelines say stroke survivors should get their needs assessed three times in the first year.
But 39 per cent never get a review, and of those who do, half get their needs assessed just once, according to a major new survey by the Stroke Association.
Nearly half of those missing out on assessment were unaware they had a right to one.
Around 150,000 Britons have a stroke each year and about 53,000 die from the disease – it is the UK’s third biggest killer after heart disease and cancer.
Half of all stroke survivors are left with a long-term disability and more than a million Britons are living with the effects.
Improvements in survival rates in hospitals have been fuelled by the use of clotbusting treatments, although there are wide variations nationwide.
But campaigners say it is a ‘bleak picture’ once survivors leave hospital, with many not getting the support they need from the NHS and social care to make a better recovery.
The Stroke Association questioned 2,200 stroke survivors and their carers about whether they had ever had an assessment for their health and social needs beyond hospital.
Without an assessment, many stroke survivors miss out on services such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, or help with washing and dressing, and are left to fend for themselves.
The report found in England, 39 per cent had not been offered an assessment, with around 45 per cent of stroke survivors in Wales and Scotland missing out. Of those who received an assessment, two-thirds had not received a care plan.
Best practice guidelines state that a stroke survivor should get their needs regularly reviewed at six weeks after leaving hospital, six months and then annually.
In England 47 per cent of stroke patients who had had a review only ever got one, with the figures being 39 per cent in Scotland and 54 per cent in Wales.
Around 150,000 Britons have a stroke each year, and half of all stroke survivors are left with a long-term disability
Altogether 40 per cent of carers said they had not had an assessment of their needs because they were unaware it was their right.
Overall, 43 per cent said they wanted more support from the NHS, with physiotherapy cited as the biggest priority.
Nearly half of survivors said they had problems caused by poor or non-existent co-working between health and social care providers.
Worryingly, almost one in five survivors in England and Wales said services they relied on had been reduced or withdrawn in the previous year.
Jon Barrick, chief executive at the Stroke Association said ‘More people than ever are surviving a stroke and that’s a welcome improvement.
‘But 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 to provide appropriate and timely support to stroke survivors and their families; and the growing evidence of cuts for people currently getting services is very worrying.’
Mr Barrick said ‘hugely complex’ systems made it difficult for carers to get help delivered even when they tried to contact health and social care workers.
He said cutting services was a false economy because quality of life was only one of the benefits from providing better support.
‘It also saves the tax payer money, as people are less likely to require acute or crisis interventions.
‘Stroke survivors and their families must be properly supported immediately after leaving hospital and in the long term, so they can make better recoveries and get on with their lives’ he added.
Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 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.
‘NHS and social care commissioners must take on board the messages from this important report and ensure stroke survivors get the care from expert physiotherapists that they need to get on with their lives.’