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Are we heading towards a stroke crisis?

A stroke occurs when blood supply to a person’s brain is compromised resulting to damage to the brain. The damage can affect how that person’s body works and how they think and feel.

Symptoms of a stroke can include a sudden numbness or weakness down one side of the body, difficulty finding words or speaking in clear sentences, sudden blurred vision or loss of sight in one eye, sudden memory loss or confusion and a sudden and severe headache.

Recovery rates from strokes differ from case to case but generally the quicker a person receives treatment the better chances are of a good recovery.

But what happens if you attend hospital showing the signs of a stroke but there isn’t a doctor with the correct expertise to identify that you are in fact suffering a stroke and treat it quickly?

According to figures published by King’s College London’s Ssnap (Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme) 48% of hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have had at least one stroke consultant vacancy for 12 months for more. This figure has increased significantly in the past few years; it being 40% in 2016 and 26% in 2014.

The practical implications of this are that the UK has less stroke consultants now than it had 6 years ago and as a result strokes are going undiagnosed and patients are losing the opportunity to receive vital treatment.

If a patient’s stroke is diagnosed quickly they are more likely to be eligible for a thrombectomy procedure which removes the clot from the brain. The treatment can help prevent the lasting damage that results in paralysis and speech problems.

The NHS has said that it is looking to modernise its stroke workforce and is training more clinicians to carry out the thrombectomy procedures. However this will only be effective if staff are trained to recognise the stroke.

In 2016 Alison Brown attended different hospitals and was repeatedly told she did not have a serious health condition. Ten months later she suffered a bilateral artery dissection which is a stroke caused by a tear in a blood vessel that impedes blood supply to the brain. She was admitted to hospital but, despite a junior doctor identifying an issue with blood flow, was diagnosed with a migraine. It was only when she collapsed days later that she received the care she needed.

If you think you have suffered a delay in diagnosing a stroke and suffered further injury as a result please contact our medical negligence team for a no obligation chat about your options. Call 01302 320621 or email info@athertongodfrey.co.uk

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