An­nual cost of strokes to NHS ‘could rise to £3bn’

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS - MARK SMITH mark.smith@waleson­

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.”

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