Stroke patients not treated9th May 2007
A national audit funded by the Healthcare Commission has shown a third of stroke patients are not cared for in specialist units.
In addition, according to results from an audit by the Royal College of Physicians, less than half of patients are given brain imaging within 24 hours.
Patients who are treated in a specialist unit have their risk of death reduced by half and have improved prospects for their future recovery.
Stroke patients treated in Wales had the worst access - there are nine specialist units to cover the entire country. Only 28% of patients in Wales received treatment in a stroke unit in comparison to 64% in England and 73% in Northern Ireland.
Dr Tony Rudd, chairman of the Intercollegiate Stroke Network, stated: "The failure of the majority of hospitals in Wales to offer stroke unit care is scandalous and needs urgent action."
Guidelines published in 2001 said all patients should be treated in specialist units, but comparable guidelines were not set up in Wales until 2006.
The audit revealed the numbers of suitable hospitals in England with stroke units rose from 82% in 2004 to 97% in 2006. Dr Jonathan Boyce, head of audit at the Healthcare Commission, said the study showed good progress has been made.
"But there is still too much variation, too many places and regions that are not responding as well as they could to minimise the harm done by this serious and common condition."
The government has stated it will release a National Stroke Strategy in the summer in order to speed up the rate of improvement.
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Title: Stroke patients not treated
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 2783
Date Added: 9th May 2007