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Stroke care weak spot for Lincolnshire

— Updated with statement from NHS Lincolnshire.

Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust has “more areas of weakness than strength” when treating stroke patients, according to research just released.

The research, carried out last year by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), used information from the government, local councils and local health services.

It also visited hospitals and care homes across the county and spoke to carers, family members and patients dealing with strokes.

From the information gathered, the CQC marked various areas of stroke care, out from the worst performing to the best performing.

Overall, Lincolnshire was marked as “Fair Performing” — although the care given is not the worst in the country, it has more weaknesses than strengths.

The result puts Lincolnshire just below the national average assessment score for strokes.

The areas Lincolnshire struggled most with were early discharge support, service access, support for carers, checking up on health a year after the stroke and end of life care.

However, the county was one of the best performers in the UK for involving stroke carers and survivors in the development of its stroke service.

It also faired well in giving patients care choices, a range of information, GP checkups, quick transfers from hospital to home and strong individual help.

Spokesperson for NHS Lincolnshire Sarah Howells said: “We welcome the CQC report on stroke services. This helps us to identify areas that we are doing well in and where we can improve services for patients.

“This report shows that we do particularly well on planning and managing stroke services and we achieved a very high score for involving stroke survivors in developing services.

“But we need to get better at specialist rehabilitation and helping people to stay healthy after a stroke.

“NHS Lincolnshire recently invested in a new Assisted Discharge Stroke Service from Lincolnshire Community Health Services.

“The service identifies patients in hospital following a stroke who are well enough to return home and benefit from home based rehabilitation.

“We will continue to work closely with patients, carers, social services and the Stroke Association to ensure we are investing wisely in stroke services that do improve quality of life for stroke survivors and their families.”

“Concerning” Variation

The research was conducted nationally over the last year, and results showed a concerning amount of variation between PCTs.

24% of areas assessed were unsatisfactory, 23% scored Fair Performing, while 26% got Better performing, and 26% scored Best Performing.

CQC Chief Executive Cynthia Bower said: “Stroke is the single largest cause of disability in adults and our evidence shows that early access to intense rehabilitation is beneficial to people’s recovery.

“Services have made improvements over recent years in the care provided in the hours and days that follow their stroke.

“It is vital that this momentum is maintained and that improvements are made in the care and support provided in the longer term.

“The level of variation is a concern, but the report also shows that the barriers to effective care after transfer home and around person centred care can be overcome and improvements made, which can help people to recover from, and cope with, life after stroke.

“We expect to see local health and social services working with stroke survivors, carers and representative groups to agree and implement a plan to improve services drawing on the results of our assessments of services in local areas.”

Read the CQC Full Report, or read the Summary Report | Photo: NHS: Act F.A.S.T