Stark facts about stroke

Dr Helen Skinner

Dr Helen Skinner

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STROKE victims in Hartlepool and east Durham are being offered some of the best post-hospital care in the country.

But the standard of support for victims fails to come up to scratch in some other parts of the UK, a charity has claimed.

The Stroke Association – which is working in conjunction with the Hartlepool Mail to raise awareness – says sufferers are being affected by a lack of post hospital care and poor co-ordination between health and social care services.

The picture in Hartlepool is markedly different.

Patients are helped by consultant physician Dr Helen Skinner and her team who rank among the top 25 per cent in the country – and even the top 10 per cent for some aspects of their service.

Their ground-breaking work includes:

l Developing relaxation and sleep programmes which help patients to recover;

l Setting up specialist stroke units at both North Tees and Hartlepool rather than having patients in a general medical ward;

l Running clinics every day of the week so that people at risk of a stroke can be checked for early signs;

l Offering thrombolysis treatment which breaks up the clots which cause blockage to the brain – the cause of a stroke.

Dr Skinner said: “In the last four years we have radically changed stroke services.”

She added: “With all strokes, whether a bleed or a blockage, it’s vital to start treatment early to ensure the best outcome for the patient.”

But the trust is not resting on its laurels.

Dr Skinner added: “Although there have been big changes we are keen to continue to make stroke services even better for our patients.

“We have lots of ideas for further improvements and it’s a tribute to everyone involved in caring for people affected by stroke that we’re eager to bring in further improvements rather than just being content with the massive amounts of progress we have made.”

Trust bosses were replying to a new national report published by the Stroke Association, called Struggling to recover. The UK-wide survey of more than 2,200 people affected by stroke showed that in the North-East:

l Fifty-five per cent of those receiving services felt that health and social care services did not work well together – forcing families and carers to take on the responsibility for coordinating care;

l Twenty-four per cent felt NHS support was not enough;

l Eighty per cent could not get out as much since they had their stroke.

Jon Barrick, chief executive at the Stroke Association said: “Stroke survivors and their families must be properly supported immediately after leaving hospital and in the long term, so they can make better recoveries and get on with their lives.”

The Mail has teamed up with the Stroke Association to raise awareness of a stroke. Figures show 1,700 people in the town become stroke victims each year.

Over the next five weeks, we will be publishing a series of stories on what to do if someone has a stroke and where you can turn to for help.