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New report paints grim picture of Northern Ireland post-stroke services



Rosemary Brown

Rosemary Brown

Rosemary with her partner Martin

Rosemary with her partner Martin

Rosemary Brown

Almost half of all stroke survivors here feel abandoned after leaving hospital, according to a damning new report.

With 37,000 people alive after suffering the illness, his equates to more than 16,000 people who feel they have been unable to make a full recovery due to a lack of rehabilitation and ongoing support.

The Stroke Association today publishes its Struggling to Recover report, which paints a grim picture of the services available in the aftermath of a stroke.

It has found that 90% of stroke survivors feel their emotional needs are not met, while 78% feel the support they received at home is poor or very poor.

A shocking 98% of family carers say they sometimes find it difficult to cope.

The report is being released at Stormont today, where stroke survivor Rosemary Brown will address MLAs.

Rosemary (59), from Killinchy in Co Down, had her stroke in 2017 and said she felt lost when she was sent home.

She suffered fatigue and her memory and speech were also affected.

She explained: "My brain had just had the biggest shock of its life and I was feeling shellshocked.

"I didn't know where to turn and felt a bit abandoned for a few weeks.

"When I was sent home from hospital I was given a few leaflets, but I don't think my brain could really process that information at the time. It was just all too much.

"Stroke survivors need quick access to physiotherapy and speech therapy, which can help them make the best recovery possible.

"Referring people from the health service to services that can help should be as seamless as possible.

"It should happen automatically so people can get the support they need, instead of waiting too long for help."

The Stroke Association is publishing the findings of its study ahead of an upcoming public consultation on reforming hospital stroke services.

The charity is calling for the creation of an appropriately funded regional stroke pathway to reduce the postcode lottery of stroke care.

Ursula Ferguson, head of stroke support at the Stroke Association, said: "Rehabilitation and long-term support for stroke survivors has long been identified as the Cinderella of stroke services.

"Since the last stroke strategy was published in 2008, multiple independent reviews have made recommendations for greater investment in services, such as physiotherapy, speech therapy and emotional support.

"But unfortunately many of these recommendations have still not been fully implemented. This must change.

"We cannot enter another decade of unmet need and chronic underfunding of community-based stroke care.

"Everyone affected by stroke in Northern Ireland has the right to make the best possible recovery."

Every year around 4,000 people here have a stroke or TIA (mini-stroke), and there are around 1,000 stroke-related deaths.

Local stroke care was reviewed by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority in 2014.

It made a series of recommendations.

But more than four years later, the Stroke Association report has revealed ongoing failings in the care and support available to local patients.

Belfast Telegraph