South Central is the only strategic health authority in England to have failed to improve stroke care.

The 2007 national stroke strategy said each stroke patient should spend at least 90 per cent of their time in hospital in a dedicated stroke unit.

However, speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event last week, national director for heart disease and stroke Roger Boyle said that while all other SHA regions had increased the number of patients who met the target, South Central had not.

Data from April to July this year shows that in South Central just 56 per cent of stroke patients spent 90 per cent of their time on a stroke unit, compared with an England average of 68 per cent.

Professor Boyle said: “It is right to look at where improvements have not been made and address the problems there. I will be meeting the people concerned in the next few weeks.”

Clinical lead for the South Central stroke network James Kennedy said improvements had been made since the period the figures quoted by Professor Boyle referred to.

Dr Kennedy said: “We were able to significantly improve the proportion of time that our patients spent on the stroke unit by working closely with our commissioners and other healthcare partners.  We are now working to adopt a similar partnership approach across the region to improve patient care.”