South Shields stroke survivor says the pandemic has delayed his recovery

A South Shields stroke survivor says he didn't receive the care he needed because of the demand on the NHS due to Coronavirus.

David Kirton suffered a stroke after contracting Covid-19 while on holiday. He was repatriated back to the UK where he was treated at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

A report by the Stroke Association found that delays to treatment because of the pandemic have taken a devastating toll on families and has put care for stroke survivors on the precipice of a national crisis.

Stroke affects 100,000 people a year, killing thousands and leaving others with complex disabilities. With enough physio, and speech and language therapy, stroke survivors can recover, but David, who now uses a wheelchair believes he was discharged from hospital too quickly:

I feel that I should have been there longer and get more therapy. To deal with the stroke you have to be quick because the longer the time between the stroke and physio you can't recover as far as you should. If you have a stoke it does absorb a lot of resources it does take a lot. Unfortunately if you have a stoke you will fall in a hole.

David Kirton, Stroke Survivor

Commenting on the report, a spokesperson for the Stroke Association said:

''Our survey of almost 2000 stroke survivors and their carers across the UK found that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of stroke treatment and care.

''This includes delays to calling 999 and going to hospital with stroke symptoms and hospital care and discharge. It’s also impacted access to rehabilitation and ongoing support, causing significant challenges for stroke survivors trying to rebuilding their lives, no matter when they had their stroke.

''Unsurprisingly, survey respondents have also reported feeling more anxious and concerned about the future, and carers have felt the significant pressures of lockdown.''

The charity's report report found that 39% of survivors who had their stroke this year reported having not received enough rehabilitation, more than half have had therapy appointments or home care visits cancelled or postponed, while 68% of patients felt more anxious and depressed.

39%

who had a stroke this year said they had not received enough rehabilitation therapies

69%

of stroke survivors have felt more anxious and depressed lately

53%

of stroke survivors had therapy appointments or home care visits postponed or cancelled

Obviously we need to deal with Covid and that is a really big challenge for the health service, but we know that stroke remains a huge cost to the NHS and social care and failure to act now to make sure stroke survivors are getting the care they need will end up be costlier to the system.

Alexis Kolodziej, Stroke Association

David's wife Catherine, also believes his recovery has been held back due to coronavirus:

If it hadn't been for Covid I think he would have been in hospital a lot longer, getting physio and treatment every day. He's done well, he's done really well to come from where he's been, but I think with the right help he could have been better. 

Catherine Kirton, David's wife

It will be a long road to recovery for David and all stroke survivors, who'll beed expert help and support to rebuild their lives, during and long after the pandemic.