Burgess calls for stroke survivors support group

Burgess calls for stroke survivors support group

4 September 2019

A LOCAL politician and stroke survivor is keen to see a support group established in the Down area for people recovering from the condition.

Rowallane area councillor Robert Burgess is a member of The Strokers support group which is based in Lisburn and recently held its annual meeting.

The organisation has been operating a peer-led support group for people who have experienced a stroke on an informal basis for two years, under the auspices of Chest Heart and Stroke Lisburn.

It has now officially formed as a self-governing, independent community group which Cllr Burgess welcomes.

He said the The Strokers group plans to register as a charity in order to expand its remit, grow the organisation and get access to more training and funding. 

Cllr Burgess is encouraging anyone in the Down area recovering from a stroke to get involved with the Lisburn group and hopes that over time, a similar body can be established locally.

He also hopes that as part of the review of stroke services across Northern Ireland that the Downe Hospital can play a key role in any new service model.

Cllr Burgess says he fully supports efforts by the Down Community Health Committee for the Downpatrick hospital to be used as a so-called step down facility for people recovering from a stroke.

Public consultation on the future direction of travel for stroke services ended last week, with senior health chiefs insisting that change in the delivery of health and social care is both “necessary and unavoidable”.

He says he shares the view of local hospital campaigners that the Downe Hospital can play an important role in the new model of care.

Plans have been outlined for a new network of so-called hyperacute stroke units, with health officials insisting that this will ensure patients have access to the best possible care in regional centres of excellence. 

While the proposals include the creation of acute and hyperacute stroke units in a number of locations across the Province, Downpatrick is not included, despite the fact that the town’s hospital is ideally located to provide a vast range of rehabilitation and support services to stroke victims.

Cllr Burgess said that while the proposed new model of care is based on care pathways being offered in major cities in England, there were no guarantees it will work in a dispersed rural area like Down District.

“I fully endorse the view locally that the Downe Hospital can play an important role in the delivery of stroke care. A highly professional medical team is already in place which can deal with stroke patients and their rehabilitation,” he said.

The Rowallane councillor also fears that current emergency ambulance provision in the Down area will not be able to cope with the increased demands the new stroke service will inevitably place upon it.

He added: “Those behind the new stroke plan say the proposed new model of care will deliver better outcomes for patients. While no one can argue with this, the service available to people in isolated rural areas across Down and Lecale must be on a par with that available to their counterparts in Belfast and other large urban areas.”