‘A neck massage gave me a stroke’

Elizabeth Hughes went blind after suffering a second stroke
Elizabeth Hughes went blind after suffering a second stroke

A STROKE victim who won hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation has told of her fears of changes to stroke services.

Elizabeth Hughes, 52, suffered a stroke just days after having a neck massage while on holiday in Wales seven years ago.
Such was the damage to her carotid artery medics even asked if she had been in a crash – but the massage firm later accepted responsibility and paid out a six-figure sum.

Tragically after being told she faces the prospect of further strokes because of a hereditary condition, she has since had a second stroke, waking up blind in one eye one morning last January. Now Elizabeth has told The News of her concerns over both the move of acute vascular services from Portsmouth to Southampton, and a national shake-up of stroke services.

It comes as analysis of 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans has revealed eight hyper-acute stroke units across the country are facing closure or downgrade as part of the plans to save £22bn from health budgets in the next five years. No such plans have been made in Hampshire.

Medics in Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport, are planning to introduce a six-month review of stroke patients in a bid to stop further hospital admissions.

Speaking to The News, Elizabeth said: ‘Specialist surgery should stay in Portsmouth.

‘It’s a huge hospital, it’s built for specialist care and I really do think it should remain in Portsmouth.

‘Most local hospitals should have a good stroke facility, more of the population are getting strokes and they should have the specialists.

‘It would have affected the outcome if it had been here and had the stroke.

‘The work at QA, the rehabilitation, their physiotherapist, were actually excellent for me.’

Under the Sustainability Transformation Plans for Hampshire, Southampton General Hospital will be responsible for thrombolysis – a clot-busting medical intervention.

‘Having those specialists there is a fundamental issue, they need to be there,’ Elizabeth, of Fort Road, Alverstoke, said.

‘Travelling to Southampton would take me an extra 15 or 20 minutes. If I needed thrombolysing it would be too late if I got to Southampton.’

Medics say having specialist doctors in one hospital carrying out more treatment will lead to better care.

But for Elizabeth the risk of having another stroke is real.

She was diagnosed with a hereditary condition, meaning she is more prone to strokes.

Cerebral Autosomal-Dominant Arteriopathy with Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy – known as Cadasil – is a lifelong condition.

Elizabeth, who has just finished a five-year treatment with a psychologist, said: ‘I’m only 52, I’ve had to plan have this in my life and keep on having a terminal illness.

‘I’m just hoping that it’s still okay – the prognosis is 10 to 15 years. It was very scary thinking this Cadasil is starting to happen now. I have each day. I’ve got this condition now and get to live with it and plan to cope with it.’

An NHS England spokesman said there will still be two or three vascular surgeons at QA in the week but the changes will create a ‘first class’ network.