THE NHS is set to overhaul post-stroke care in Darlington and County Durham after it emerged patients were suffering poor outcomes and were paying for private care to aid their recoveries.
Karen Hawkins, a director of Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group said a county-wide review of the service had been launched as studies had found only 35 per cent of patients were receiving “appropriate early supported discharge intervention”.
Ms Hawkins told Darlington Borough Council’s health and partnerships scrutiny committee the service’s performance was “not acceptable”.
She said while “a case for change” was being developed by NHS bosses 1,100 people in the region a year suffered strokes.
She said analysis of local NHS performance in the service had “highlighted very clearly the need for improvements”, by tailoring care to individuals and bolstering care in the community.
Mr Hawkins told the meeting: “The results for Darlington demonstrates early intervention and prevention and those percentage of patients who are supported by an early discharge team needs to be improved.
“Access to the relevant services and therapy types of services seven days a week also needs to be reviewed and that supports rehab.
“This isn’t about getting individuals out of hospital quicker, this is about making sure that patients can have treatment and interventions in their own environment to ensure they quickly recover and can be seen closer to home than they currently are.”
She said the public would be consulted ahead of any changes.
Members of the committee said while they had concerns over the length of time patients were spending in hospitals recovering and believed encouraging care in patients’ homes would be positive, they questioned whether the NHS would provide sufficient support in community settings.
Councillor Veronica Copeland, a former stroke therapist, added: “The best rehab is done in the home where that person is going to spend the rest of their life. Recognition needs to be given to that. A hospital is an artificial environment for rehab. You’ve got to get more therapists working in the community.”
Other members said a key part of overhauling the post-stroke service would be to ensure the availability of rehabilitation therapies was improved.
Councillor Heather Scott said speech and language had been a major problem for stroke patients, adding “People have had to go places like Newcastle for and access it privately.”
The committee’s chair, Councillor Wendy Newall, added: “When we have spoken to people who have suffered strokes we have received some quite worrying stories. People who have fallen through the net, people who have had to pay for their own treatment. People are not entirely sure what is available.”