A prominent Waterford politician is demanding the implementation of a Stroke Strategy which, she says, could save up to 55 lives a year in the south east and about 500 nationally.

City Councillor Mary Roche (Ind), seeking support from her Council colleagues, has tabled a motion for debate at their monthly meeting next Monday calling on the Minister for Health and the HSE to develop and implement a strategy which, in addition to saving so many lives, would improve the rehabilitation of thousands of stroke sufferers who are left disabled unnecessarily.

“Waterford has no dedicated Stroke Unit”, says Councillor Roche “and as the third biggest killer in Ireland it is imperative that strategies are put in place which will ensure the provision of this vital service for stroke sufferers and their families. It has long been known that early diagnosis and treatment for stroke patients can mean the difference between life and death or mild and severe disability for the rest of their lives”, she said.

“If you look at the national figures and work out the numbers for the south east (with 11% of the national population) then up to 1,100 people in this region have a stroke each year. Between 35 and 55 lives a year could be saved and there would be improved recovery for literally hundreds of people from Waterford and the region if a dedicated Stroke Unit were in place at Waterford Regional Hospital. This unit would provide immediate optimal care following tried and trusted international best practice norms – which have been proven to work”.

She said the dedicated unit would admit patients from anywhere in the region within two hours of stroke onset (after that time lapse the chance of recovering with little or no disability is greatly reduced).

It would provide dedicated stroke beds (for every 33 stroke victims in Ireland who need a bed, there is only one available). It would also provide timely and vital CT and MR scanning, as well as thrombolysis to break up abnormal blood clots (a facility which is currently almost non-existent in this country) and assessment by a physiotherapist within 72 hours and by an occupational therapist within 7 days.