13 June 2017

Hospital charity funds stroke sessions as survey finds one in four wouldn’t dial 999

Hospital charity funds stroke sessions as survey finds one in four wouldn’t dial 999

One in four people wouldn’t call 999 if they thought they were having a stroke, prompting Sheffield Hospitals Charity to continue support for outreach work by the city’s stroke service.

An investigation was carried out by the specialist stroke team at a stroke awareness event at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, and found that significant numbers of the general public don’t know how to spot the signs of stroke or the importance of taking emergency action if a stroke is suspected.

Interventions paid for by the charity include education and awareness sessions for ambulance staff, patients, their families and carers, where information, advice and education is given.

The main symptoms follow the acronym FAST – Face, Arms, Speech, Time. Three in four of those questioned knew what FAS stood for, but three quarters did not realise that T stood for ‘time to call 999’, potentially putting them at risk of missing out on life changing interventions.

Figures also highlighted that a quarter of people did not know what the causes of a stroke were, and nearly 16 per cent did not know the symptoms.

Amanda Jones, clinical lead for Stroke Services at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The stroke awareness event emphasised that more still needs to be done in terms of raising awareness; particularly of what to do if a stroke is suspected.

“From the minute a stroke happens, brain cells start to die, at the rate of nearly two million per minute. Therefore, the longer the person delays contacting the emergency services, and getting into hospital to access a specialist assessment and early treatment, the more of the brain is destroyed. For example, even a few minutes delay can impact a patient’s ability to move a limb or not.

“Getting into hospital urgently and being assessed early will ensure better outcomes.”

A stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, caused by either a clot or a bleed. In the UK, strokes are a major health problem, with someone suffering a stroke every five minutes. It is the third largest cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. The brain injuries caused by strokes are a major cause of adult disability in the UK.

Sheffield Hospitals Charity helps fund various stroke education sessions tailored to both ambulance staff, stroke professionals, health care professionals who do not work directly in the stroke service, but who need to be aware and know what to do if they come across some-one with a suspected stroke, as well as community support groups which include patients, families and carers.

The sessions involve a number of approaches, such as simulating a stroke with the use of clinical educators and providing information by expert speakers and sharing information in peer support groups.

“These sessions have helped raise awareness of stroke, resulting in a big difference of people being well informed and supported, but the message of contacting the ambulance service urgently to receive an immediate specialist assessment, needs to be constant, as some people are still not dialling 999 early enough.

“With funding so tight in the NHS, it’s important we have charity support to carry on getting key messages about stroke into the public arena, to help reduce the often devastating consequences of stroke, and to realise how vital it is to get to hospital urgently,” said Amanda.

Sheffield Hospitals Charity is also enhancing the services offered by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals by funding new specialist seating, and rehabilitation equipment, as well as supporting the specialist team in being able to attend expert study days, in order to advance their specialist skills and knowledge to further improve the care of stroke patients.

To donate to the city’s stroke service, visit www.sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk/donate

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