Uttlesford health bosses pledge action to help stroke sufferers

PUBLISHED: 09:33 23 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:33 23 January 2014

Enhancing post-stroke care in Uttlesford is a priority for health bosses, who responded to claims that patients were missing out on longer-term rehabilitation because of a “postcode lottery”.

Chairman of Uttlesford’s Health & Wellbeing Board, Professor Peter Fentem, was adamant more needed to be done to support people who have suffered strokes.

The Stroke Association’s former professor of stroke medicine was at a loss as to why there was a community stroke team for south east Essex but not west Essex.

When asked by the Reporter, he replied: “There should be [a community stroke team covering Uttlesford] but this is the postcode lottery operating.

“Clearly in Saffron Walden, just as is the case in Dunmow, we have got the need for a proper provided service and that is not happening currently.”

The South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), which provides ­community health services across Bedfordshire, Essex and Luton, is commissioned to provide only the first six weeks of rehab for west Essex stroke survivors.

However, part of its ­organisation covering south east Essex offers stroke patients rehab care Monday to Friday from 8am-5pm. Long-term support and advice is provided by the ­community stroke team, complete with six month and annual reviews by nursing case managers.

The body responsible for “buying” these types of services for Uttlesford is the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (WECCG).

Dr Rob Gerlis, chairman of the WECCG, said the group was “committed to enhancing our stroke services” and had made it a priority for 2014/15.

“In recent years, care has improved but we know from clinical evidence that there is the potential to save more lives and to further reduce the risk of long term disability for our stroke patients,” he said.

“Over the next few months we will be reviewing stroke services in west Essex.

“We will be involving service users, carers, local people and our partners in this review.”

A 12-week stroke activity pilot course, to help anyone who has had a stroke become more mobile, was launched by Uttlesford District Council in October.

The second phase, to include exercise classes for wheelchair users, will begin next month.

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