Under-threat Stroke Recovery Service in Portsmouth given extra year of funding

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Politicians who for an extension to the city’s stroke recovery service have welcomed Portsmouth City Council’s decision to provide an extra year of funding.

Campaigners had opposed the original decision to defund the Stroke Association-run service in June, prompting a stay of execution until the end of the year but the council has now extended this further until the end of 2024. A Labour Party motion in July called for five years’ of funding but its proposers welcomed the announcement.

“We are relieved the Portsmouth Stroke Recovery Service has been saved for now and the Liberal Democrats, who were cutting this vital service, have u-turned on their original decision,” councillor Charlotte Gerada, the leader of the council’s Labour group said.

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Picture: Adobe StockPicture: Adobe Stock
Picture: Adobe Stock

Cllr Gerada seconded councillor Graham Heaney’s motion, which was backed by several stroke survivors and the Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan.

She added: “For months Labour councillors and Stephen Morgan MP have joined stroke survivors in campaigning for this service to be retained…This excellent news would not have happened without people and communities across Portsmouth coming together.

“While we celebrate this win, concerns still remain about this service beyond 2024. We will do all we can to ensure stroke survivors receive the support they need.”

The service costs the council £77,000 a year but the majority of this has come from one-off funding arrangements with just £16,000 allocated in its budget and councillors were told this was no longer affordable. A petition calling on the council to scrap its plans to end the service was signed by more than 1,100 people.

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The Stroke Association said there was no alternative to the support it provided and urged the council to reverse its decision. The council said the national reform of stroke support meant Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board was expected to launch its own service during 2024. The council said its latest extension was “temporary” and would cover the gap until this began.

Councillor Matthew Winnington, the cabinet member for health, said the council had been working with the Stroke Association to secure provision.

He said: “We are pleased to have been able to put an end to concerns about the support for stroke survivors in the city and find funding to extend for another year while we await further information from the Integrated Care Board about the future integrated community stroke pathway in Portsmouth.

“We know how valuable this service is to those who need to use it and are committed to making sure residents always receive the support they need during difficult times in their lives.”

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Stroke Association associate director Jacqui Cuthbert, Associate Director said she was “grateful” the council had agreed the extension.

“Our stroke service provides a lifeline and vital support to hundreds of stroke survivors in Portsmouth, who are living with the long-term effects of stroke,” she said. “With this renewed investment, we can continue to support stroke survivors in their recoveries, offering them specialised person-centred support when they most need it. This news will also be welcomed by the local stroke community, who are rebuilding their lives after stroke.”

She said the association was “looking forward to continuing discussions” over long-term support.