Banbury stroke survivor campaigning to save ‘beacon of hope’ support service

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Carl Vessey says it’s vital that the Stroke Association’s Oxfordshire Stroke Recovery Service – which supported than 800 stroke survivors in the county last year – continues its vital work supporting people to rebuild their lives after stroke and is backing a petition to save it.

Oxford University Health Trust (OUHT) has told the Stroke Association that funding for the support service will end on 30 June. The charity has urged them to continue to fund it, at least temporarily until the Trust’s own review into how stroke survivors should be supported is concluded.

Meanwhile, a long-running service specifically for stroke survivors with communication difficulties will continue, but that service does not support stroke survivors with the many other physical, emotional and practical difficulties they face.

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Carl, 53,said the Stroke Association had been “a beacon of hope” after his stroke.

Worried for others: Carl Vessey says the recovery service is essential for people who have a strokeWorried for others: Carl Vessey says the recovery service is essential for people who have a stroke
Worried for others: Carl Vessey says the recovery service is essential for people who have a stroke

“Having a stroke was, for me, catastrophic,” said Carl. “Overnight, my life changed forever. I have had three strokes, my last being in October last year. I have been left with low mood, memory problems, anxiety, and a degree of mobility problems.

“The possibility that the support I received from the Stroke Association may be ending, fills me with a great deal of worry and trepidation - not just for myself but other people in need too.

“I can honestly say that without help from the Stroke Association, I wouldn't be able to go out, socialise or anything like that if I didn't have their support.

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"The Stroke Association has been a beacon of hope, helping me, my family & my work to understand my stroke, and how to manage its effects."

Stroke survivors have launched a petition to save the service. Stroke survivor John Phillips, who lives near Abingdon and volunteers with Abingdon Stroke Club and Grove Stroke Group, helped to create it.

He said: “By not funding this service, it leaves a black hole of support across all of Oxfordshire in comparison to the surrounding areas of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. This gap in service provision will be creating a postcode lottery and a health inequality for Oxfordshire.

“Please sign this petition and give future stroke survivors and their families in Oxfordshire the best chance to live a normal life and contribute to society rather than struggle trying to manage health issues and other consequences of a life-changing event.”

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The wider stroke recovery service was launched last year to meet the needs of all newly-diagnosed stroke survivors, building on the success of the existing service which focussed on helping stroke survivors with the communication difficulty known as aphasia.

Funding was initially provided by the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB). In April, responsibility passed to the Oxford University Health Trust which says it is unable to support the service.

The ICB has pledged that it will continue to fund the communication service.

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Nick O’Donohue, the Stroke Association’s Associate Director for the South East, said the charity was desperately sorry for stroke survivors and carers that funding for the wider service was ending on 30 June.

“The OUHT has told us that they are reviewing support for stroke survivors in the area. National Clinical Guidelines clearly state that local areas should have an integrated community stroke service that includes life after stroke support.

“Stopping the service at this point would be disastrous for anyone who has had a stroke recently or who may have one in the coming months.

“We have been contacting the stroke survivors and families we currently support and they’re extremely worried about how they will cope.

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“Stroke survivors say they feel very well looked after in hospital but when they come home it can feel like they have been abandoned into an uncertain future.

“Leaving hospital after a stroke is a frightening time because so much has changed, they may have multiple disabilities, and they will have lots of questions. 

“The personal service that we provide is designed to ease that transition, support the stroke survivor and their family, and reduce the risk of readmission to hospital. 

“Our role is to help people regain their confidence and independence, so they’re able to rebuild their life after stroke.

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“We provide information, advice, and emotional support and help identify their personal support needs and priorities. We find out how they’re managing with daily activities and can signpost them to any additional support they may need.”

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