Latest figures show that visits to A&E in April dropped by almost 60 per cent in the Midlands, meaning many with serious conditions are going untreated.
People in Coventry and Warwickshire are being urged to dial 999 if they or a loved one has stroke symptoms – and not put off seeking help because of coronavirus.
Latest figures show that visits to the Accident and Emergency Departments in April dropped by almost 60 per cent in the Midlands region.
In response, NHS Midlands is urging people to use the abbreviation F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) as a simple checklist to help people identify the most common signs of a stroke.
• Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
• Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
• Speech – is their speech slurred?
• Time to call 999
As part of the NHS ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign, anyone who may be having a stroke is being told to seek treatment as soon as possible.
The message comes just weeks after the announcement of a decision to implement new stroke services across Coventry and Warwickshire.
The decision – taken following full public consultation – is likely to see the establishment of fully integrated, end‐to‐end NHS stroke services commissioned across Coventry and Warwickshire, in line with the national and regional (Midlands and East) stroke specification.
There is likely to be a new hyper-acute stroke unit at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire plus the provision of community-based rehabilitation services across the area.
Implementation of the new model is currently on hold due to COVID-19.
Dr Gavin Farrell, clinical lead for the Coventry and Warwickshire Stroke review, said that acting fast can be critical for the outcome of stroke patients.
“I would urge anyone who suspects they have suffered a stroke or have a family member presenting signs of a stroke to seek urgent medical help immediately. This quick response can have a massive impact,” he said.
“It might feel like a daunting time to access health services at the moment, but we can assure patients across Coventry and Warwickshire that all the necessary precautions are being taken to ensure your safety, so please do not delay getting vital treatment.”
Nigel Sturrock, medical director at NHS England, explained that while NHS staff have rightly pulled out all the stops to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic, providing safe, world-class treatment for killer conditions like stroke has still been a priority.
“Because of that incredible effort, at all times the NHS has been able to provide care for everyone who has urgently needed it, but it’s a real concern that the number of people coming forward for stroke care at the right time has gone down,” he said.
“So, if you or a loved one experience stroke symptoms, please help us help you. Act fast, and call 999.
“Our expert paramedics, stroke nurses, radiologists and doctors will ensure you get the care you need as quickly as possible.”
For further advice and support, visit nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/.