A lack of ‘stroke aware’ consultants is having a negative impact on the NHS. That’s according to a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Patient Claim Line. Susan Healey, a solicitor and team leader at Patient Claim Line, is responding to concerns nearly half of UK hospitals do not have enough specialist stroke consultants.
“Someone suffers a stroke every five minutes in the UK. As a result, strokes are the fourth largest killer in the UK.
“Today, almost half of our hospitals are waiting to employ a doctor with stroke experience and less than half have enough clinical psychology and adequate physiotherapy staff.
“Furthermore, little or no occupational or speech therapy support is available on weekends.”
Research carried out by the Stroke Association supports Susan’s views.
The association are keen to tackle multiple findings taken from a national audit programme.
In short, the report highlights a ‘large deficit in services’ for stroke patients.
Firstly, there appears to be shortages when diagnosing strokes.
Secondly, around specialist treatment and rehabilitation to aid with recovery.
Being stroke aware: do you know the signs?
- FACE: One side of the face is dropping
- ARMS: Arm weakness
- SPEECH: Speech difficulty
- Time: Time to call for ambulance
Are ‘thousands of lives’ at risk?
Consequently, several high-profile charities and health officials agree that there is a potential problem here.
In particular, the British Association of Stroke Physicians fears “thousands of lives” will be put at risk unless action is taken, with others facing the threat of a lifelong disability.
Prof Rustam Al-Shahi Salman, president of the Association, told the BBC a shortage of specialists – and equipment – is preventing hospitals carrying out the treatment.
“The impact of a stroke is devastating and touches many lives.
“In my own experience, those misdiagnosed following a stroke are often younger individuals.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the individual who suffers. Many family members also experience the emotional pain and live with the financial loss.
“On the other hand, it doesn’t appear that there is an aversion to working within stroke medicine, more that the doctor shortage is being very keenly felt in the area of stroke medicine.”
In response, the NHS say more people are surviving and thriving after a stroke.
The health service are also looking to modernise their stroke workforce ahead of long-term funding decisions and there is hope for greater funding for stroke care later in the year.