Suffering in their thousands

Jon Barrick
Jon Barrick

NEARLY 1,700 people suffer a stroke each year in Hartlepool, the Mail can reveal.

We have teamed up with the Stroke Association which today started a campaign to raise awareness of the devastating condition.

Over the next five weeks, we’ll be explaining more about how to spot the signs, where to turn to for help, how to prevent a stroke and how to cope if you’d had one.

But today, we can reveal the numbers of people in Hartlepool who have suffered a stroke in the past five years – and they show that the levels are decreasing for the first time since 2006.

In 2006-07, there were 1568 cases recorded with the town’s GPs. The number increased to 1,634 in 2007-08, to 1,682 on 2008-9, and to 1,745 in 2009-10 before falling last year to 1,694, according to Stroke Association figures.

Charity officials revealed the statistics to the Mail on the day they launched their Action on Stroke Month.

Chief executive Jon Barrick said: “More people than ever are surviving a stroke and that’s a welcome improvement.”

But he called for more support for survivors once they have returned home.

The association has prepared a new report called Struggling To Recover.

It is based on the findings of a UK-wide survey of more than 2,200 people affected by stroke. Experts estimate there are more than 50,000 stroke survivors in the North-East.

The report findings reveal:

l 38 per cent of stroke survivors had not received an assessment of their health and social care needs.

l 53 per cent whose stroke occurred in the last three years have received only one assessment.

l Only 38 per cent of those who received an assessment had been given a care plan outlining the services and treatments that would be put in place.

The report also reveals that in the North-East:

l Fifty five per cent of those receiving services said 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 that the support that they received from NHS services was not enough.

l Eighty per cent were unable to get out as much since they had their stroke.

Mr Barrick added: “Many stroke survivors tell us that after all the effort to save their lives they then feel abandoned when they return home.

“The NHS and local authorities are failing in their responsibilities to provide appropriate and timely support to stroke survivors and their families; and the growing evidence of cuts for people currently getting services is very worrying.”

The Stroke Association is calling for an assurance that all stroke survivors have their health and social care needs assessed and regularly reviewed.

They also want improved co-ordination of health and social care services so that stroke survivors and carers can better manage their life after stroke.

Mr Barrick added: “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.”