Stroke survivors in England receive patchy care depending on where they live, according to a new report.
Despite the government’s desire for more people to be treated in the community rather than in hospital, the right services do not always exist to support them.
In almost half (48%) of areas, people had to wait an average of two weeks before receiving community-based speech and language therapy.
Proper support to enable people to be discharged from hospital earlier was only available in 37% of areas.
Some 32% of primary care trusts (PCTs) did not commission stroke physiotherapy in the community, while in 44% of areas occupational therapy was not always given by staff trained in strokes.
Other issues noted in the report included people given poor information packs when they leave hospital and only around a quarter of helplines being offered out of hours.
More than 80,000 people in England are admitted to hospital following a stroke every year.
A further 25,000 are admitted following a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which is similar to a stroke and is a warning sign of a possible full-blown stroke.
More than 900,000 people are living with disabilities following a stroke.
Today’s report said: “Stroke can be a devastating and life-changing event for people.
“However, our review found that the extent to which they are supported to cope with life after stroke varies significantly across England.”
While some areas offer good services, including the North East and South West, the national picture is inconsistent, the report said.
CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “Stroke is the single largest cause of disability in adults and our evidence shows that early access to intense rehabilitation is beneficial to people’s recovery.
“Services have made improvements over recent years in the care provided in the hours and days that follow their stroke.
“It is vital that this momentum is maintained and that improvements are made in the care and support provided in the longer term.”
Joe Korner, director of communications at the Stroke Association, said: “This important report from the CQC shows that thousands of people don’t have access to specialist stroke services in the community when they leave hospital.
“In many areas, essential treatments such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychological support are not available to stroke survivors.
“The fact that most other areas are able to provide these vital services shows that much more can and should be done to meet stroke survivors’ needs.”