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Assembly call for action on stroke care.

Byline: Madeleine Brindley

STROKE patients should be admitted to dedicated beds rather than general wards according to a hard-hitting Assembly report released today.

The National Assembly's health committee has put forward 25 recommendations to improve care for those who have suffered a stroke in Wales.

It includes calling on Health Minister Edwina Hart to develop a national stroke strategy, which includes targets and deadlines, and appoint stroke champions to lead improvements in services.

The committee's inquiry followed a series of damning audits by the Royal College of Physicians. And concerns have also been raised regarding the lower level of funding for stroke in Wales compared with other parts of the UK.

Committee chair Darran Millar said: "Unfortunately, our inquiry has shown that some of the original concerns outlined by these external audits have yet to be addressed, although some improvements have been made. Strokes are the third most common cause of death, and given that evidence shows specific service improvements can decrease patient mortality and disability, it is vital that our recommendations are acted upon to improve services for those affected by strokes."

The last National Sentinel Audit for Stroke said, although there had been some improvements, Welsh stroke service was still behind the rest of the UK.

Giving evidence to the committee inquiry, Dr Hamsaraj Shetty, who is based at the regional stroke unit in Cardiff, said: "Managing stroke patients in a specialised multi-disciplinary stroke unit has been shown to reduce death and dependency.

"This is the only intervention used to manage stroke patients that has been shown to be associated with a reduction in mortality."

But the inquiry discovered that, despite such clinical evidence, many patients are admitted onto general wards.

The Welsh Stroke Nurse Alliance said this was in contravention of national guidelines. Responding to the committee's report today, Ana Palazon, the Stroke Association's director for Wales, said: "The publication of this report calls for a strategy and makes 25 long-awaited and necessary recommendations covering prevention, acute care, early and continued rehabilitation as well as the need for research leadership and funding.

"However, any credible stroke services strategy must be linked up to a wider strategy for tackling health inequalities and longer-term social care needs. We look to a commitment form the Welsh Government to an outcome-based, all Wales strategic approach, underpinned by realistic resources."
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 19, 2010
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