Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Local stroke services must improve

Today saw the publication of a national report by the Care Quality Commission into the quality of stroke services. Stroke is the biggest single cause of adult disability with an estimated 50,000 people per year left with disabilities following a stroke.  The report published today found that many stroke rehabilitation services across the country were lacking. I downloaded the local report assessing stroke care in Berkshire West PCT area (which covers Reading) and was shocked to find that services in our area have been rated among the worst in England. Berkshire West PCT was rated 127 out of 151 PCTs in England. Services in Berkshire East were found to be even worse.

This is disappointing news for patients and carers of people with stroke - people in living in Reading should have access to high-quality services and therapies offered to people living in other parts of the Country.

As Lead Member for Health on Reading Borough Council I am responsible for representing the interests of patients and working to improve local health services. With this in mind I penned a letter to Penny Henrion, Chair of Berkshire West - the text of which is below:
As Lead Member for Health on Reading Borough Council the wellbeing of stroke patients and their carers in Reading is of utmost importance to me. I am committed to representing the local patient voice and also ensuring there is accountability in our local health system. For this reason I have copied this letter to Cllr Mike Orton, Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel on Reading Borough Council so he is aware of my concerns.

I am aware of the difference timely, high quality care can make to individuals and families. Recent innovations in rehabilitation and stroke treatment locally and nationally have led to better outcomes for patients and this is to be welcomed.

However, I am concerned that stroke services in Berkshire West are not as good as those offered to patients in other areas and I look forward to hearing how you plan to address these issues. It is important not to overlook the positives, however.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate you for the work you are doing with local agencies including Reading Borough Council, GPs and the Royal Berkshire Hospital Foundation Trust around early supported discharge.
This is very important work which benefits many residents in Reading and the surrounding area and it is good to see the efforts of NHS and Council staff recognised in this way by the Care Quality Commission.
However, I am very concerned about the areas highlighted in the report where weak performance has been identified:
• Providing a range of information for patients who have suffered a stroke (score – 1 out of a possible 5)

• Involving stroke survivors and carers in planning and developing stroke services (score – 1 out of a possible 5)

• Helping people to participate in community life (score 1 out of a possible 5)

• Helping people to choose services they want (score 1 out of a possible 5)

• Reviewing progress after people have left hospital (score 2).

I was also concerned to read in the report that the PCT has scored only 2 out of 5 in relation to working together across health and social care services. Reading Borough Council is committed to working with local health partners to improve the care pathway for patients.
If you have any thoughts about ways joint working could be improved please let me know and I will do my best to make this happen.
I would be grateful if you could respond to me as soon as possible about how you plan to address the issues raised in the report for the benefit of stroke sufferers and their carers.
I look forward to hearing what the PCT's response is. Meanwhile if you or anyone you know in Reading has experienced local stroke services please do get in touch with any feedback.

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