Stroke care 'a postcode lottery'
Stroke survivors in England receive patchy care depending on where they live, according to a new report.
And despite the Government's desire for more people to be treated in the community rather than in hospital, the right services do not always exist to support them.
The study, from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), found some people have no access at all to specialist rehabilitation stroke services, which have been shown to reduce disability.
In almost half (48%) of areas, people had to wait an average of two weeks before receiving community-based speech and language therapy.
Proper support to enable people to be discharged from hospital earlier was only available in 37% of areas.
Some 32% of primary care trusts (PCTs) did not commission stroke physiotherapy in the community, while in 44% of areas occupational therapy was not always given by staff trained in strokes.
Other issues noted in the report included people given poor information packs when they leave hospital and only around a quarter of helplines being offered out of hours.
Some 68% of areas offered patients a named contact to support them when they left hospital but only around half worked across all services, including health, social and community services.
The study also found that a third of PCTs do not offer specialist stroke physiotherapy and less than 40% of areas have good access to psychological therapy or stroke counsellors.
More than 80,000 people in England are admitted to hospital following a stroke every year.