Annual cost of strokes to NHS ‘could rise to £3bn’
THE annual cost of strokes to the Welsh NHS could treble to nearly £3bn by 2035 unless immediate action is taken, it is claimed.
A new report by the Stroke Association has warned that informal costs to families and carers have been “significantly underestimated”.
The figures also predict that a growing population, increasing numbers of stroke survivors and rising care costs are crucial factors behind the increasing financial burden of stroke over the next 20 years.
The £1bn annual cost of stroke to Wales breaks down as:
£58m in lost productivity; £133m in NHS care; £204m in formal social care; and
£613m in informal care.
The equivalent UK-wide figure of £25.6bn a year sets the cost of stroke on a par with the financial burden of dementia, which costs the UK £26.3bn each year.
Ross Evans, interim director for the Stroke Association in Wales, said: “Researchers now predict that in less than 20 years’ time, stroke could cost Wales about £2.8bn every year.
“With the number of people living with stroke set to soar and the cost of the condition spiralling, we need radical changes to the way stroke is treated and managed in Wales.
“The majority of the vast financial burden caused by stroke is shouldered by thousands of families and carers, who give up everything, including their jobs, to look after loved ones whose lives are turned upside down in an instant.
“Stroke survivors without close family are left isolated, without the longterm support they desperately need.”
He said stroke is one of the biggest causes of adult disability in Wales and can leave people at any age unable to walk, speak, read or write.
He added: “Stroke is currently one of the Welsh Government’s priorities and it is vitally important for stroke survivors and their carers that this continues.
“We want to see stroke units become more efficient to help people make a better recovery, and patients get the help they need after they leave hospital.”
But he said further funding for stroke research is also crucial.
“It may seem obvious that research is needed to help reduce these costs.
“In the UK, for every person living with stroke, just £48 a year is spent on medical research compared to £118 for every dementia patient.
“This simply isn’t acceptable – we must change the story for stroke.”
In response, a Welsh Government spokesman said: “More people than ever before are surviving strokes but we know we need to do even more to ensure the best possible care for stroke patients and their families.
“While health boards are responsible for commissioning stroke services from their funding allocations, we also provide £1m annually to support the Stroke Implementation Group.”