Thursday 18 December 2014

The prognosis is good for stroke patients

THE number of people with enduring disabilities as a result of stroke has decreased, according to new figures.

The percentage of patients with stroke discharged from acute hospitals to nursing homes fell from 17.3 per cent in 2009 to 14.5 percent in 2012. Health Minister James Reilly said this is a "positive outcome", and pointed to the rapid rise in access to clot-busting thrombolysis, from 3.3 per cent in 2008 to 9.5 per cent in 2012. He was replying to a parliamentary question from Socialist TD Joe Higgins who highlighted a recent study showing that 11 per cent of stroke survivors requiring access to psychological services got access to them, and just one in two requiring access to speech and language therapy did not receive therapy. One in three requiring physiotherapy received no therapy.

The Minister insisted that developments in stroke care have been made. Key elements of stroke care now available include new and existing stroke units provided with additional therapy, nursing and consultant posts.

Stroke rehabilitation can be provided in a number of settings, which range from specialised rehabilitation centres and departments in acute hospitals to outpatient and community settings.

Currently, the only internationally accredited programme of specialist inpatient stroke rehabilitation is delivered at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin. However, the plan is to have four regional hubs. They will have clinical and consultant leadership from a designated specialist in rehabilitation medicine, supporting existing neurologists and specialists in medicine for the elderly.

"Primary Care also plays an important role in stroke rehabilitation. The HSE's National Service Plan 2013 provided for additional funding of €20m to strengthen primary care services (€18.525m for the recruitment of 264.5 primary care team posts and €1.475m to support Community Intervention Team development).

"The posts were allocated based on the analysis carried out by the HSE in identifying areas of deprivation and need. The additional primary care posts include 72 Public Health Nurses, 40.5 Registered General Nurses, 47.5 Physiotherapists, 52.5 Occupational Therapists and 52 Speech and Language Therapists.

"As of March 6, 2014, 199.5 posts have been filled or start dates have been agreed. The HSE is striving to have the remainder of the posts filled as soon as possible in 2014. Taken together, all these developments show that we have made significant progress in preventing stroke and its complications," he insisted.

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