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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 00:03 GMT
Stroke patients not getting help
Stressed man
About 150,000 people a year have a stroke
Stroke patients are struggling to get access to the vital speech and language therapy they need to help them recover, a poll says.

The survey of more than 500 survivors in England found fewer than one in five received speech and language therapy in the first month after their stroke.

Half of those quizzed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists had waited over two months.

The government said it was working hard to improve services.

About 150,000 people a year have a stroke, with a third of them left with a communication disability as a result.

Stroke causes a major impact on the quality of life of people of all ages and is an issue we cannot afford to ignore
Kamini Gadhok, of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Evidence shows that early access to speech and language therapy is key to helping people recover.

And the government's stroke strategy calls for access to rehabilitation services such as these as soon and for as long as people need it.

The stroke patients surveyed said where they had managed to access care, the services had made a huge difference.

Two-thirds said speech and language therapy enabled them to remain independent, while more than two-thirds thought it helped family and friends understand them.

And more than half said therapy had made them feel less isolated.

Ignore

Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of the college, said urgent action was needed.

"Stroke causes a major impact on the quality of life of people of all ages and is an issue we cannot afford to ignore."

Joe Korner, director of communications at The Stroke Association, said: "Sadly, as the results show, all too often speech and language therapy is not available quickly enough and stops too soon."

The Department of Health said it was working hard to improve services, but admitted more staff were needed.

A spokeswoman added: "The government has committed new central funds totalling 105m to provide national support for improving stroke services."

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Stroke patients talk about how they are recovering



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