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Thriving after stroke

Clare Woodford, Head of Policy & Influencing

Clare Woodford, Head of Policy & Influencing | Stroke Association

3 min read Partner content

The estimated overall cost of stroke in the UK is set to rise to an incredible £75 billion by 2035.
This presents huge challenges for the health and care system, not just for delivering stroke
treatment in the acute setting, but also in managing people’s ill health after stroke. One in four
strokes in the UK impact working-age people

The 2023 National Clinical Guideline for Stroke for the UK and Ireland is explicit on the need for life after stroke support, alongside rehabilitation, to be available to all. Life after stroke support provides the information and long-term support that many stroke survivors need to regain independence, reduce risk of a further stroke, and improve their physical and mental wellbeing. It enables people to thrive, not just survive, after their stroke.

Stroke Association’s Thriving After Stroke campaign highlights the devastating impact of stroke and the difference that life after stroke support services can make for stroke survivors, carers and the wider health and social care system. We are highlighting the current inequitable and inadequate provision of long-term support across the UK. Our recommendations include stroke survivors having access to a six-month review and key worker.

A six-month review is a person-centred holistic review of a stroke survivor’s physical, neuropsychological, and social needs. It includes screening for risk factors for secondary stroke which accounts for 25-30% of all strokes. The review should be used to inform the next stages of their personalised care and support plan. Just 37% of stroke survivors received a six-month review in 2022-23, meaning over 40,000 people missed out.

A Stroke Key Worker works with the person from day one to organise the practical and emotional support the person needs to navigate and rebuild life after a stroke. Without consistent needs-based long-term support, physical and mental health may avoidably deteriorate. 

Marwar Uddin, 41, from Tower Hamlets, had a severe stroke aged just 40. A dad of three, his stroke not only changed his physical abilities but his role in family life.

Marwar said: “Stroke is one of the worst things because of the long-term impact. I need help to go to the toilet. I can’t even dress myself. My voice is different now. I’m a different person. I cry myself to sleep most days. It’s difficult for me.”

“Thanks to life after stroke services, I’ve slowly been rebuilding myself and I am also set to start a phased return to work later this year. If I didn’t have any of this support, I think I would still be in a chair in my living room watching the world go by."

Sadly, the support Marwar received is not available to all stroke survivors. We need political leadership on stroke to help improve access to vital services. Without it, our NHS, our economy, and our future will suffer. We have a timely opportunity next year with the Government’s anticipated Major Conditions Strategy, to radically reshape stroke care, including people’s long-term support needs, as one of six conditions prioritised in the strategy.

The next UK Government faces a stark challenge. With an increasing number of people surviving stroke and an ageing population, the number of stroke survivors living in the UK is expected to rise to over two million by 2035. With the NHS workforce unable to meet current rising demand, the imperative is clear. Investing in stroke prevention, timely treatment and post-stroke care will radically improve people’s lives while delivering savings across health and social care.

What you can do

  • Discuss with your local system leaders how they will prioritise life after stroke provision.
  • Meet with stroke survivors and Stroke Association in your area to hear about experiences of care and find out more about the National Clinical Guidelines.

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