Hello, my name is Graham Roberts and I am the Patient and Public Representative on the Kent and Medway Stroke Review Programme Board.

 

I am a stroke survivor – three years and rising! I am in a strong position to speak for stroke victims for two reasons. Firstly, I have always worked in the health related professions so I understand the professional medical issues. Secondly, since 16 June 2012, I have deep insight into what it means to suffer a severe and debilitating stroke.

I became involved as I had made good progress and wanted to volunteer at the hospital where I was treated. But they would not interview me because I am male and disabled.

I made a gentle protest to my stroke consultant who cared. He suggested I put my name forward for the “Life after Stroke” working group. This defined and described the services that people in Kent, Surrey and Sussex need, once the early lifesaving care and early rehabilitation are over.

Following this, as a Kent resident, I was asked to help with the stroke review for Kent and Medway.

So what is the review doing?

The review is looking at how care for people having a stroke in Kent and Medway can be improved, particularly in the vital first 72 hours.  The hospitals and commissioners are working together to look at stroke care across the county.

Research shows the things that make the difference to people’s survival, and especially to their surviving with as little disability as possible, are:

  • Seeing a stroke consultant within 24 hours
  • Having a brain scan, ideally within an hour of admission and at least within 24 hours of admission
  • Being seen by a stroke-trained nurse and a therapist (such as a physiotherapist or speech and language therapist) within 72 hours
  • Being admitted to a dedicated stroke unit within four hours of arriving at A&E
  • Having clot-busting drugs (if appropriate) ideally within one hour of arriving at A&E and at least within six hours
  • Having a specialist swallow screening within four hours
  • Having a nutritional assessment and swallowing assessment within 72 hours
  • Receiving adequate food and fluids for the first 72 hours.

To provide this level of care, there need to be enough staff available, seven days a week.  In practice, though all the hospitals in Kent and Medway are working hard and have made some improvements to stroke services, they are struggling to provide enough specialist staff for seven-day care.

So I attend meetings of the Stroke Review Programme Board and ask questions to check that they are considering everything that is important for patients.

So far, there have been ten events in July across Kent and Medway to listen to peoples’ views and a survey to gather the experiences and views of a wider group of patients and carers.

Through October and November, voluntary organisations including the Stroke Association are assisting in the review, by undertaking targeted engagement with small groups of people with differing perspectives and needs.

In November and December, there will be three “deliberative events” when panels of the public, stroke survivors, families/carers and community representatives - including voluntary organisations -will review the evidence gathered from the clinicians and people who have been affected by stroke and consider possible options for the future and the criteria that should be used in taking decisions on those options.

Interested in knowing more?

Please look out for my next blog – in the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and they will make sure they reach me.

Over and out

Graham Roberts