Healthcare staff urged to refer stroke patients to new ‘lifeline’ support service

Doctors and nurses are being encouraged to refer stroke patients to a new aftercare “lifeline” to help them in their recovery.

The Stroke Connect service has helped more than 500 people since it launched in July, NHS England said, providing specialised follow-up care to patients without them having to leave the house.

The partnership between the NHS and the Stroke Association, set up during the pandemic, aims to give survivors support and advice in days after they are discharged from hospital.

Families of patients can also opt to get information for themselves, including how to look after their own health and wellbeing.

The service works by having a stroke aftercare expert calling the patient within a few days of them leaving hospital, providing reassurance and help with any immediate concerns, guiding them in how to access long-term support and signposting them to other sources of support.

Another call is offered within the month to check in on the person’s progress and see if more help is needed.

NHS England said the new service which has been running in London, Cornwall and Yorkshire, works alongside existing rehabilitation services and aftercare, which has continued throughout the pandemic.

Juliet Bouverie (pictured), chief executive of the Stroke Association, said she wanted to encourage hospital stroke teams to refer patients from across England to the service.

She said: “By reaching out to stroke survivors during the early days of their recovery, we can help to stop a small problem from snowballing into a crisis.

“I am proud that we’re able to work with the NHS to make sure that stroke survivors get help in these difficult circumstances.

“Following a rapid test phase in April and May 2020, we are now encouraging referrals from all areas across England where there is no existing Stroke Association stroke recovery service or equivalent.

“Don’t miss out on this vital support.”

NHS national clinical director for stroke Dr Deb Lowe said: “As the NHS responded to the biggest health challenge in a century, treating over 108,000 people in hospitals with coronavirus, the NHS continued to deliver essential treatment to people having strokes.

“Follow-up care is vital for recovery and so this new lifeline will be invaluable to support rebuilding lives after stroke.

“Please remember, if you are worried that you are having a stroke, please call 999 as your NHS is here to support you.”

Stroke survivors can also call the Stroke Association’s helpline on 0303 3033 100.

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