Stroke victims in Northern Ireland should be offered the same access to specialist medical care despite their postcode, a leading charity has told MLAs.
Patients must not be subjected to a postcode lottery, according to the NI Chest, Heart and Stroke Association.
It comes after representatives from the recently merged charities met with Stormont’s health committee at a special meeting in the Lagan Valley hospital in Lisburn over the future of stroke care north of the border.
The services are currently being reviewed by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey.
Andrew Dougal, chief executive of the charity, raised particular concerns about the situation in hospitals in Coleraine and Downpatrick – the only two areas currently without a dedicated stroke unit.
“Stroke survivors and their families will be watching closely to ensure that their needs will be met,” he told the committee.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to pass on their concerns to the Health Committee. For too long, stroke has been treated as a Cinderella illness but finally we have the opportunity, with the help of locally-elected politicians, to put things right.”
There was also a call for more health professionals to be trained in dealing with the effects of strokes, including aphasia, or loss of speech and improved psychological and emotional support for patients and families.
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