Reducing Brain Damage: Faster Access to Better Stroke Care; Fifty-second Report of Session 2005-06; Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence

Strokes are one of the top three causes of death in England and a leading cause of adult disability. There are 110,000 strokes each year in England, with a quarter occurring to people under 65 years. Some 300,000 people in England are living with moderate to severe disabilities as a result of a stroke. As the NAO report on this subject pointed out (HCP 452, session 05/06 NAO ISBN 010293570X), it costs the economy in total about £7 billion a year, with the direct cost to the NHS about £2.8 billion. This Committee of Public Accounts report takes evidence from the Department of Health and sets out a number of recommendations. The cost of stroke, in both economic and human terms, could be reduced by re-organizing existing services more effectively. Brain scans of many stroke patients are being delayed, everyone who suffers a stroke should be scanned as soon as possible after arrival in hospital, and should not wait more than 24 hours. Stroke patients should spend longer in hospital on a stroke unit, this could reduce the number of deaths. There needs to be an increase in the number of consultants who have training in dealing with strokes, as well as therapists and other specialist staff with expertise in stroke care across the primary and secondary healthcare sectors. The Department of Health should improve provision of information to stroke survivors and carers, so they are made more aware of the support services available. The Department should run an awareness campaign to improve public knowledge about strokes

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