Extra GP hours could cut strokes19th September 2008
A study has suggested that hundreds of strokes could be prevented each year if GP surgeries were open for two hours longer a day.
An Oxford University team found that if people had a minor stroke, they would turn to their GP.
However, if their GP was closed, they would wait another day before seeking treatment.
The researchers looked at what had happened in the cases of patients of nine Oxford GP practices who had either a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or a minor stroke between 2002 and 2006.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, found that longer opening hours could help.
Other research has highlighted the need for early assessment after a TIA to help reduce the risk of a subsequent major stroke that would be more serious in terms of death or permanent disability.
Guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend that high-risk patients must be seen within 24 hours of their symptoms appearing.
The study found that among 359 patients who had a TIA and 434 who had a minor stroke, the average time before contacting a GP after symptoms appeared was four hours during surgery opening hours (8.30am to 6.30pm) - but just under 25 hours if the surgery was closed.
Joe Korner, of the Stroke Association, said: "Longer opening hours will, as the research demonstrates, ensure that more people are referred urgently for specialist assessment."
But the BMA said public awareness about the signs of minor strokes was more important that longer surgery hours.
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Title: Extra GP hours could cut strokes
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 8423
Date Added: 19th Sep 2008