Stroke survivors are being failed by the NHS and not getting the rehabilitation they need, a charity claims.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence say those leaving hospital after a stroke should get at least 45 minutes of each kind of therapy they need for at least five days a week.
They can receive physiotherapy, help with speech and language and occupational therapy.
But the Stroke Association claims patients in fact receive around a third of what they should be getting.
They received the equivalent of 16 minutes of physiotherapy, 16 minutes of occupational therapy and 12 minutes of speech and language therapy a day, an analysis of the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme report for 2016 and 2017 showed.
Therapy is vital to help stroke patients relearn basic skills such as walking, talking and eating in order to regain their independence. Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said: ‘These findings clearly show that the amount of rehabilitation therapy stroke survivors receive once they return home from hospital is woefully inadequate and jeopardises their recoveries.
‘Almost two-thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability. For those who have been robbed of the ability to carry out simple everyday tasks, access to rehabilitation therapy can be truly life-changing for them and their families.’
The charity says some stroke survivors have resorted to paying privately for therapy, making it a luxury for those who can afford it. Philippa Haslehurst, from London, had a stroke aged 47. After leaving hospital she received only two NHS sessions of physiotherapy and occupational therapy, so chose to go private.
She said: ‘I felt like after a couple of rehabilitation sessions, the NHS had wiped their hands of me. I’d made hardly any progress and was still very much dealing with the debilitating after-effects of my stroke.
‘If it wasn’t for the private physiotherapy, I wouldn’t be walking now, let alone back at work. I believe physiotherapy saved me.’
Strokes are the country’s fourth biggest killer and a major cause of disability.
NHS Clinical Commissioners, the organisation representing clinical commissioning groups, said: ‘Unfortunately the NHS does not have unlimited resources.
‘On a daily basis [clinical commissioners] are forced to make difficult decisions that balance the needs of the individual against those of their entire local population.’