Situation even worse at weekends, with four in five hospitals struggling with staff shortages
THOUSANDS of patients are being put at risk because NHS stroke units have too few nurses, a report warns.
Only half have the recommended numbers working on wards.
And things are worse at the weekends, with four in five hospitals struggling with staff shortages.
Stroke-related deaths peak on Saturdays and Sundays when there is a lack of nursing staff, experts said.
Consultants are also in short supply, with 40 per cent of NHS trusts unable to fill specialist posts – up from 26 per cent in 2014.
The report – by the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme – also reveals two-thirds of patients recovering from stroke do not get crucial follow-ups.
Experts who compiled the report, which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “Current nurse staffing levels are insufficient to provide good care for everyone who needs it.”
But some progress has been made.
Every hospital now has a dedicated stroke unit and almost all have round-the-clock access to clot-busting treatments.
Prof Pippa Tyrrell, who led the probe, said: “Stroke care has improved beyond recognition in the last 20 years.
“But we still have marked variation of services and patient outcomes across the UK.”
But more than 8,000 patients a year are missing out on a vital stroke treatment, a study claims.
It involves physically unplugging clots from the brain rather than dissolving them with drugs.
Experts told a conference in Liverpool it is more effective.
But Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital researchers found only 600 patients a year get the treatment out of 9,000 or so eligible.
Researcher Dr Martin James said: “We must work quickly to establish what needs to be done so that more people in the UK can benefit from this treatment.
“It can dramatically reduce disability after a stroke.”