Leading health experts across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are concerned at a drop in the number of patients seeking help who may have had a stroke.
They believe people are worried they may contract covid-19 if they go to hospital, or they think the NHS is too busy.
Dr Indira Natarajan, Clinical Lead for Stroke Services at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) said: “We have started noticing a significant reduction in the number of stroke patients coming into hospital.
“On average in normal times we see between three and five patients per day for assessment but those numbers have significantly gone down and that is a very worrying trend.
“There is a possibility that people are taking their medicines more carefully and getting more exercise during lockdown, which could result in a small reduction, but not to this extent."
There are special concerns about:
- People with minor stroke symptoms who are not seeking help
- Elderly patients, especially those living on their own, who have a history of stroke
Dr Natarajan said: “We would encourage anyone with symptoms such as facial, leg or arm weakness – even if you are able to carry on with your daily activities – to seek help from the NHS. They should not worry that they could get the COVID virus as precautions have been taken to keep them safe in the hospital.
“If you have had a minor stroke it is very important that you go on the right medications as soon as possible to prevent you from having a catastrophic stroke.
“In the case of patients who are already on medication, we are worried they are experiencing problems but are calling for help at a very late stage. We are also concerned they are seeing less people than normal so the alarm is not raised as quickly.
“I would request that if you do have a relative, friend or neighbour with a history of stroke you do communicate with them on a daily basis so we can make sure they are ok and are taking their medications and have an adequate supply.”
Dr Natarajan added: “We are open for business as normal and stroke and cardiac services are all here to help.