'Bleak' picture for stroke survivors as rehab shortfall affects recovery
More people are surviving strokes but they are being denied the best chance of recovery because of the poor state of therapy services, a damning audit has revealed.
Almost three-quarters of the country's rehabilitation hospitals reveal they cannot give stroke survivors the recommended level of therapy.
The study by the Irish Heart Foundation and the HSE's National Stroke Programme revealed a 'bleak' picture of services for thousands of people who are battling the effects of stroke.
Only one in four rehab hospitals has a dedicated stroke unit, while a majority lack a stroke specialist to oversee rehabilitation.
Fewer than one in three has any access to psychological services.
It found that the majority of the 26 hospitals which participated in the study have no access to community rehabilitation teams to continue therapy that is essential to assist recovery for patients after they are discharged.
The HSE's national clinical lead for stroke, Professor Joe Harbison, said: "The incidence of stroke in Ireland is rising by about 350 extra cases every year, but we still have a severe shortage of stroke unit beds to accommodate patients, or the specialist nursing, therapy and medical staff we need to care for them.
"We have only about half the acute stroke unit beds we need to meet international standards, and this audit shows an even lower proportion of specialist rehabilitation beds."
He warned the after-effects for patients, apart from death, deteriorated last year for the first time since the creation of the National Stroke Programme.
"This is not unexpected in view of the current level of fixed and insufficient resources," he said.