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Thousands of stroke patients’ lives ‘at risk’ because of NHS nurse staffing crisis

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.

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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.”

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