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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
Stroke patients dying unnecessarily
Laura Panting, whose mother suffered a stroke.
Laura Panting will present the petition to Downing Street
More than 15 people die unnecessarily every day in England because they do not receive proper stroke care, says a charity.

The Stroke Association is launching a petition on Tuesday to highlight the lack of specialist stroke units around the country.

Because stroke affects mainly older people it doesn't seem to matter

Eoin Redahan
It says nearly three quarters of those who suffer a stroke are still not receiving life-saving care.

The group is calling for ministers to make stroke care a priority.

Eoin Redahan, director of the Stroke Association, said: "If people who suffered from cancer or heart disease were treated in the same way, there would be a national outrage.

"Yet because stroke affects mainly older people it doesn't seem to matter.

"How can anyone justify not giving a treatment that will reduce unnecessary deaths?"

Figures show that if a person is treated in a stroke unit they are 20% less likely to die or suffer serious disability.

Laura's letter
My mummy had a stroke three years ago when I was six. Since then I have learnt to look after her, with help from my family.
I help her put her clothes on in the mornings and I fetch and carry things for her. I also help her look after my brothers and sisters. Sometimes, when mummy feels well, we go for short walks in the park.
The Prime Minister has promised everyone like mummy will be looked after better by special doctors and nurses in hospital. But mummy says this isn't happening.
However, currently just over a quarter of people spend more than half their stay in a stroke unit.

The Department of Health published national standards for stroke care last year.

The Stroke Association says this has led to some improvements - but not enough to ensure all patients who suffer a stroke will have access to specialised stroke services.

The "Just Not Good Enough" petition will be presented to 10 Downing Street by nine-year-old Laura Panting, whose mother Samantha, suffered a stroke three years ago.

Laura wrote about her experiences in a short letter that was attached to the top of the petition in order to emphasise to people just what an impact a stroke can have not only on the lives of sufferers, but on their families too.

Mr Redahan said: "We hope that by calling on the government to keep its promise, we can reduce the number of deaths and serious disabilities suffered.

"We believe everyone who has suffered a stroke deserves access to the life saving and disability- reducing care that stroke units provide."

A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted.

Most strokes occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. Some strokes are caused by bleeding in or around the brain from a burst blood vessel.

Stroke is one of the biggest killers and the largest single cause of serious adult disability in the UK.

Around 100,000 people in England and Wales suffer a first stroke each year - about 10,000 are under the age of 55 and 1,000 are under the age of 30.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We have made the improvement of stroke care an NHS priority, as outlined in The National Service Framework for Older People.

"The NSF is a 10-year strategy which takes time to implement fully but, as the RCP National Audit of Stroke Services shows, we are already making progress and more patients are benefiting from more effective stroke care."

She said the number of hospitals with specialist stroke services had increased from 45% in 1998 to 73% in 2001-2 and, where there were currently no specialist services, plans should be in place to develop them.

See also:

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