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Photo of Simon Stead from our Stroke Helpline

Simon Stead, Our Helpline Officer, explains GPs play a vital role in helping us to maintain our health and manage long-term conditions such as stroke. During the Coronavirus pandemic, many GPs are now offering phone-based consultations as an initial step, before deciding if a face to face appointment is necessary. This is to limit the risk of contracting the virus. 

Many common questions about medications and referrals can be done this way. But it can feel like an extra challenge for people recovering from stroke, particularly with disabilities such as aphasia. Some people also find this system makes it harder to speak to their regular GP who knows them well.

If you have a disability or barrier that prevents you from talking on the phone, there are steps that you can take:

  • Can someone else be there to help or talk on your behalf? 
  • You can also write to your GP with specific instructions which will help you communicate e.g.:

    “I have aphasia or memory problems, I had a [insert type] stroke in [insert date] and it’s affected my ability to do [insert main current side effects]. It helps me when you speak very slowly and give me time to answer your question or my [son/ daughter/ sister/ friend] is on [insert number]. Please call them if I’m not able to answer all your questions.” 
  • Can the GP offer video calls such as Skype or Zoom to enable you to point, use pictures or other communication tools to help?
  • Are there other professionals who can support you in answering your question? For example, if you have a query about your medication, your pharmacist may be able to answer it or make a request to have your medication reviewed if necessary. 
  • If you are still having difficulty making contact or getting answers to your questions, each GP’s surgery will have a formal dispute resolution service. 

Additional coronavirus support services

If you find yourself in a lockdown situation or you need additional support, you may find that your County Council is a good starting point. Each Council has a support system in place that they can provide or refer you to.

  • There are a range of charities and local support services that offer help and support, such as food shopping and medicine delivery. The Covid-19 Mutual aid website can help you find details of local support services.
  • Many pharmacists and supermarkets will also have support services such as priority shopping and home delivery.

Our Stroke Helpline will happily explore all these options further with you and may be able to tell you about additional support we or other organisations offer, which could help with your specific situation. We have more information about Covid-19 and stroke here.