A quarter of stroke patients are still not being treated in specialist units, a national audit has found, despite evidence to show survival chances are improved by receiving rapid treatment in dedicated units.
There has been an improvement in care since the last study of hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was carried out in 2006, according to the audit carried out by the Intercollegiate Stroke Network, based at the Royal College of Physicians.
However, the chair of the network, Dr Tony Rudd, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that patients were not treated in specialist units, with only 29% of patients taken to one on the same day as their stroke.
Further data from the study found that 17% of patients went to a unit within four hours of having a stroke and 57% within two days.
Once in hospital, the audit found that only a fifth of patients had a brain scan within three hours, and a ‘worrying number’ were moved on into nursing homes.
Dr Rudd said: ‘We know that going to a stroke unit reduces your chances of ending up disabled or dead.
‘Virtually every hospital in England does have a stroke unit. The problem is that many of them are not big enough or are not perhaps run as efficiently as they might be.’