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Reluctance to call 999 linked to stroke deaths

Friday July 3rd 2020

Reluctance to “burden” the emergency services means people have failed to dial 999 after suffering a suspected stroke, campaigners say today.

Results from a Stroke Association survey of 1000 people found that over 65s are most likely to put off calling 999 for non-COVID-19 life-threatening conditions, despite advice from the NHS and Government that hospitals are open for all.

The Office for National Statistics has reported that deaths at home attributed to stroke during the coronavirus period are 54% higher than the previous five-year average.

However, 35% of survey respondents aged 65 and over said they were less likely to contact emergency services with non-COVID symptoms due to the pandemic, while 51% of 65 pluses stated they did not want to “burden already busy emergency services”.

Professor Martin James, clinical director of the King’s College London Stroke Programme and consultant stroke physician at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter, said: “On my acute stroke unit in Exeter and across the country stroke specialists have seen striking reductions in the number of people coming into hospital with the symptoms of stroke during the coronavirus pandemic.

“But our hospitals remain well equipped and ready to treat stroke patients safely and so we would say to the Great British public, despite everything else that is going on, stroke is still a medical emergency.”

Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, added: “Stoicism kills and the British sense of ‘keep calm and carry on’ doesn’t save lives. It’s really worrying to see that the people most at risk of stroke are most likely to die at home because they were too frightened of bothering the emergency services – your life matters.”

Tags: A&E | Brain & Neurology | Heart Health | UK News

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