Patients are failing to recover properly from a stroke or heart attack because the NHS offers too little rehabilitation for people discharged from hospitals, a report states.
The research from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP), Royal College of Occupational Therapists and the charity Sue Ryder said people with arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other long-term conditions also miss out on care that can make a huge difference to their health and quality of life.
The report claims there is a postcode lottery in the availability of community rehabilitation in England, which is having “devastating consequences” for patients who have just been treated in hospital or have recently been diagnosed with a serious illness, including cancer.
Karen Middleton, the CSP’s chief executive, said: “Everyone should get the rehab they need to live life to the full and be as independent as possible. It’s not acceptable that we are missing opportunities to improve lives.”
In a survey of 1,002 people who have a long-term health condition, just 29% said they had received enough rehabilitation.
Those who miss out are more likely to suffer continuing ill-health, fail to get back to work and incur avoidable care costs to the NHS, according to the results published by the Guardian.
Just 50% of people who have had a heart attack or stroke have cardiac rehabilitation after being discharged and most cancer patients do not receive rehab before they have treatment, even though that can boost the chances of success.
Among the 71% of patients who felt they received too little rehabilitation, 44% said they felt abandoned by the system.
Charlotte Nicholls, head of policy at the Stroke Association, said: “We hear stories of stroke survivors who were told they would never walk, feed themselves or hold a pencil again being able to do all of these things after sustained rehabilitation and hard work from teams of specialists. These life-improving gains are being denied to people who cannot access rehabilitation services.”
A spokesperson for the NHS said among the 26,000 more primary care staff will be physios and musculoskeletal teams to help people get back on their feet as quickly and safely as possible.
“The NHS long-term plan will also see most patients attending cardiac rehabilitation services, with rehab for stroke more easily accessible through integrated stroke centres,” the spokesperson added.