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This recent event, hosted jointly with the Stroke Association and Kaleidoscope Health & Care, brought together over 50 delegates from 10 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care systems (ICSs) across England to initiate a new shared learning network of best practice across stroke care.

We heard from a range of excellent speakers during the morning, joining us to provide opening perspectives, including Tony Rudd, National Director for Stroke at NHS England, Deborah Lowe, Clinical Lead at Getting It Right First Time and Fiona Lloyd Davies, an expert by experience. I also spoke in my capacity as co-chair of the national stroke programme board.  Thank you to all who came to share with us.

We would like to share a few reflections from the day for those who couldn’t make it and to remind us of the opportunities that lie ahead. Please do share your highlights and lessons-learned if you attended too!

1. Improving community integration and post-hospital outcomes

There were many examples of acute reconfiguration success across the country shared at the event. We heard about the challenge of improving consistency in length, frequency and types of rehabilitation for stroke survivors. The inequality in stroke care remains a big challenge across local populations up and down the country.

The opportunity through integrated working to improve the connection between acute care and community care is right in front of us. We know there are evidence gaps that need to be addressed to improve outcomes across rehabilitation pathways. We also need to develop tools for capturing and acting on patient-reported experience and outcomes so that these inform person-centred models of follow up and long-term support.

2. Thinking differently about the future workforce

We spoke about the need to think very differently about registered and non-registered roles in acute and community teams, with options to share the workforce by creating joint posts, the intention being to promote integration. There was also discussion around how local carers and stroke survivors can be helped to find support locally, with one suggested solution being having Stroke ‘Ambassadors’ in each area.

3. The cost of doing nothing

The way that we approach the stroke care pathway matters not just to individuals in improving their quality of life, but is also important to the UK economy. The Stroke Association estimates that the overall costs of stroke in the UK for those aged 45 years and over will rise from £26 billion in 2015 to £75 billion in 2035. There is a clear call to arms for commissioners that doing nothing is simply not an option.

If you’d like more detail on what was discussed at the event, please go to the event write up for details summaries of the themes from many of the break-out groups and share with your colleagues.

In response to the event attendees’ top-voted areas of interest, two best practice interactive webinars will be hosted in December. The topics will be:

  • 6 month reviews and beyond (Speakers: Dr Deb Lowe, National Clinical Lead for Stroke Medicine NHSI GIRFT Programme and Jennifer Gardner, Head of Stroke Support Stroke Association).

    You can sign up for the webinar here

  • Rehabilitation and Data (Speakers: Tracey Walker Clinical Lead, Greater Manchester Stroke Operational Delivery Network and Sarah Rickard, Network Manager GM ONS).

     You can sign up for the webinar here​

We believe that building a collective network to learn, share best practice and challenge each other will support ICSs to become exemplars for integrated working. 

Please do complete the network survey if you have received it, as this will help us get the network right and make sure it does what we all want it to do.

The Stroke Association is extremely pleased to be working with ICSs, STPs, clinicians and, most importantly, stroke survivors and their carers to create a consistent high quality stroke care pathway across England, from the moment stroke strikes to rehabilitation and long-term support. We looking forward to working with many of the ICSs in the near future to support delivery of the stroke programme.