HEALTH watchdogs are urging people district wide to have their say over possible cuts to emergency stroke services.

Under massive NHS reorganisation plans the number of sites across West Yorkshire currently providing a critical service in the first 72 hours after a stroke, including Bradford Royal Infirmary, could be potentially reduced from five to three.

Health bosses say no decisions will be made about the future of hyper-acute stroke services until people have shared their views but the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) on how to fill a £1bn funding shortfall by 2020/2021 has said officials do “need to reduce the number of hyper-acute stroke units across West Yorkshire and Harrogate”.

That plan follows a specialist county-wide stroke services ‘blueprint’ published in June 2016 which stated that the five stroke units in West Yorkshire - at the BRI, Calderdale Royal Hospital, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds General Infirmary and Pinderfields Hospital - should be reduced to three or four.

Julie McCann who runs the Stroke Survivors Club at Cafe West in Allerton said: “It would be a really scary loss if Bradford was to lose its unit. Once again they are putting a cost on someone’s life. Time is of the essence when strokes strike, people need urgent care close by not miles way out of district.”

In summer 2015, two hyper acute stroke beds were moved from Airedale General Hospital to the BRI which meant all stroke patients across the district are cared for there in the crucial first 24 to 72 hours after a stroke. Patients from Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven are then transferred to Airedale Hospital at Steeton for further care and rehabilitation.

Now the Healthwatch group has been asked as part of the STP to find out what people think about the current stroke services that are already being provided and what would be important to them now and in the future should they have a stroke, or care for someone who has.

A spokesman said: “Healthwatch have been doing some in-depth interviews with people who’ve had recent experience of stroke. We’ve been talking with patients and carers identified through liaison with stroke rehabilitation wards at local hospitals and community stroke services. This work will contribute to the overall report for West Yorkshire and help shape the future of services across the region.”

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