A YOUNG stroke survivor who says she was “very lucky” to receive emergency treatment at her local hospital says health bosses need to come clean over plans to shut critical care units.
Mother-of-two Berni Cooper suffered a stroke at home aged just 30 in 2011 and was rushed to her local hospital in Wakefield by ambulance where she received vital clot-busting treatment within four hours.
While officials say centralising critical stroke services in fewer locations should save lives by guaranteeing patients greater access to expert care, she says she is concerned about whether that will work in reality.
“It is like the Post Office. You used to walk around the corner and they have all been closed down now. When you do go, you have to drive a considerable distance and then have to queue just to buy a stamp.
“It is an appalling service. You can’t help but think is that going to be the same as what happens in this case.”
Ms Cooper says officials need to inform the public by putting out “clear information” about how many staff are based at each unit and how many patients they deal with, as well as explaining what level of staffing is planned should sites close.
She says the prompt care she was able to receive after she suffered her stroke played a vital part in her successful recovery and had she been delayed getting treatment by having to go further afield to reach hospital her health could have deteriorated further.
“I’m not a medical person but I do think I wouldn’t have made anywhere near as good a recovery as I have done. I was treated just about within the four-hour window. It happened around 9.30am and I believe it was around 1pm that I got the thrombolysis treatment. They didn’t stop treating me from the moment the ambulance arrived and even still we were pushed for time,” she said.
“If people have got to travel further distances, it is very well saying they will be better units but will it be an excuse to cut corners and not have more staff?”
She feels unit closures could also have a negative effect on patients’ families. “The majority of people who have strokes are of an older age bracket. For their partners and families, it can be more difficult travelling to and from these units. That can be more distressing and hamper somebody’s recovery,” she said.