People in the Midlands are being urged to ‘act FAST’ if they or a loved one has stroke symptoms and not put off seeking help because of coronavirus. NHS staff have worked hard to ensure anyone who needs stroke care can safely get it despite the biggest public health emergency in over a century.
As the latest statistics show that visits to A&E in April dropped by almost 60 per cent in the Midlands, the NHS is urging people who may be having a stroke to come forward for care as soon as possible. As part of the Help Us Help You campaign, NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands is urging the public to continue to act F.A.S.T. and dial 999 when stroke strikes.
Services across the country have been restructured to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to or passing on infection in hospital. Plans were also set out to ensure people could continue to get care even if local ambulance and hospital teams were put under much more severe pressure than has been the case.
Nigel Sturrock, Medical Director at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said: “While NHS staff have rightly pulled out all the stops to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic, providing safe, world-class treatment for killer conditions like stroke has still been a priority.
“Because of that incredible effort, at all times the NHS has been able to provide care for everyone who has urgently needed it, but it’s a real concern that the number of people coming forward for stroke care at the right time has gone down.
“So, if you or a loved one experience stroke symptoms, please help us help you, act FAST, and call 999. Our expert paramedics, stroke nurses, radiologists and doctors will ensure you get the care you need as quickly as possible.”
The F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym is a simple test to help people identify the most common signs of a stroke, and emphasises the importance of acting quickly by calling 999:
• Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
• Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
• Speech – is their speech slurred?
• Time to call 999