Charity calls for ‘Right to Rehab’ in Scotland

Jane-Claire Judson Chief executive Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland delivers speech. credit to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

The Chest, Heart, and Stroke Scotland charity has published a report calling for more funding and accessibility for rehabilitation services in Scotland, claiming that many people lack access to the services.

The One in Five Report highlights what life is like for the estimated one in five people who live with the effects of chest, heart or stroke conditions.

The charity said ministers needed to invest in physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists to match demand.

They carried out an extensive report on suffers of ailments such as asthma, COPD, heart disease and strokes. They have found that a vast number of patients have little or no access to any after-care. Many find that after their direct medical treatments, they are left to their own devices in terms of rehabilitation and psychological support.

A survey of 1164 respondents revealed that many people who have experienced these illnesses feel their mental health was affect as a direct result of it.

Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said,

“Too many people are struggling to cope with the impact of their chest, heart or stroke condition. This is unacceptable in modern Scotland.

“Opportunities are being missed to support people to live life to the full and current services need to rise to the challenge. That’s why we are urging the Scottish Government to commit to and invest in establishing a universal ‘Right to Rehab’ so everyone affected by these conditions can rebuild their lives.

“This report should serve as a call to action to all of us. All services need to be better connected. We need to be doing things differently and working together to make sure that there is no life half lived in Scotland.”

“Action on this is a matter of life and health.”

The figures speak for themselves:

  • People with COPD are up to 10 times more likely to have panic attacks
  • After a stroke, people are 2-3 times more likely to have depression
  • One half or respondents suffering from heart conditions say their confidence is expecting

The report also highlights how sufferers with lower incomes are even more vulnerable to mental and physical decline because they are less likely to be able to access personal private healthcare, attend rehabilitation classes – because they may be too far away to commute to or too costly, or receive psychological support from friends, family or professionals:

  • In the most deprived areas of Scotland the mortality rate from stroke is 39.5% higher than in the least deprived
  • 20% of people after a stroke have resorted to paying for private treatment

According to the report, there is not enough availability for rehabilitation services and not enough people are being made aware of the services available to them:

  • Only 9000 out of 69000 people can access pulmonary rehab for chest conditions.
  • 29% of people who have had a stroke want more access to therapists such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, or speech and language therapists.
  • Around 1 in 5 people say they simply don’t know what support is available to them locally, which suggests that they are not being properly signposted to it.
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Debbie Matthew, stoke survivor from Perthshire describes her struggles. Credit to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

Debbie Matthew, from Perthshire is a stroke survivor with a young son. Debbie had a stroke at just age 40. She faced the additional struggles of living in a remote area and feeling unsupported as a result:

“After my stroke, I wasn’t able to drive for nearly a year and because I live in a remote part of Scotland without a regular bus service it meant getting anywhere was really difficult. Transport is only available to the over 65s in my local area so because I was in my early 40s when I had my stroke, the only options for me were to rely on taxis which were really expensive or the goodwill of family and friends. Neither of these options were good for me.”


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