"Stroke services must be improved" - Mark Hunter MP

June 5, 2009 11:47 AM

Mark having his blood pressure taken to raise awareness of stroke

Mark Hunter, Liberal Democrat MP for Cheadle constituency, and member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Stroke, has this week called for Stroke services to be improved during a debate in the House of Commons.

As part of the debate on Stroke services Mr Hunter raised concerns about the variations across the country in travel time for patients suffering from a suspected stroke to hospitals that offer specialist Stroke services. It is vital when a stroke is suspected that the patient has access to quality specialist services as quickly as possible, but lack of services in some areas means that their patients have to travel further and therefore are more likely to have a fatal stroke.

Mr Hunter also raised the issue of funding for the Government's Act FAST campaign (to recognise the first signs of stroke), which is only in place for three years, and the need to ensure that support is available to the Stroke Association who as a result of the campaign are dealing with very high levels of calls.

Commenting after calling for the debate Mr Hunter said: "Good provision of Stroke services is vital because of the speed with which it can take place. Services need to be easily accessible from right across the country because long travel times can make a massive difference to the chances of survival or long-term damage.

"The Government's Act FAST campaign has been very successful, but will only continue to do so if funding is secured for a longer period than three years. In fact the number of calls to the Stroke Association's helpline has increased by 36% with waiting times increasing and many more people abandoning their call because of the wait. While the Stroke Association is doing their best with the resources they have available, this in itself is a dangerous situation and the Government should be looking at how they can support the Stroke Association and their potentially life-saving helpline.

"While FAST is good at raising awareness, this becomes irrelevant if we do not have adequate stroke services that can act quickly when someone calls 999 with a suspected stroke. It is more than worrying that only 21% of people suspected to have had a stroke are given a brain scan to confirm this within three hours and only 65% within 24 hours. We need sustained investment to improve the rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients and ensure that all victims have access to specialist stroke units."

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