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Strokes: Rehabilitation

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to improve access to speech and language therapy for people with communication difficulties following strokes; and if he will make a statement. (188774)

The National Stroke Strategy published last December sets out the vision for modernising services and delivering the newest treatments for stroke. The strategy makes clear that people who have had strokes should be able to access high-quality rehabilitation and receive support from stroke-skilled services as soon as possible after they have had a stroke, available in hospital, immediately after transfer from hospital and for as long as they need it. Stroke care networks are being developed to provide support for service providers and commissioners locally to improve the services they offer.

The national health service has the resources to fund these changes to stroke services, having seen record levels of investment and a period of significant expansion in the workforce. There has been a 36 per cent. increase in the number of speech and language therapists (SLTs) working in the NHS, bringing the total to 6,623 (NHS staff census September 2006 headcount). The number of SLTs entering training has increased by 65 per cent. since 1998-99. We acknowledge the significant value of SLTs in the management of swallowing, speech and communication disorders following a stroke. In addition we have announced spending proposals totalling £105 million to provide national support for implementation of the National Stroke Strategy.