Is primary care a neglected piece of the jigsaw in ensuring optimal stroke care? Results of a national study.
BACKGROUND: Stroke is a major cause of mortality and morbidity with potential for improved care and prevention through general practice. A national survey was undertaken to determine current resources and needs for optimal stroke prevention and care.
METHODS: Postal survey of random sample of general practitioners undertaken (N = 204; 46% response). Topics included practice organisation, primary prevention, acute management, secondary prevention, long-term care and rehabilitation.
RESULTS: Service organisation for both primary and secondary prevention was poor. Home management of acute stroke patients was used at some stage by 50% of responders, accounting for 7.3% of all stroke patients. Being in a structured cardiovascular management scheme, a training practice, a larger practice, or a practice employing a practice nurse were associated with structures and processes likely to support stroke prevention and care.
CONCLUSION: General practices were not fulfilling their potential to provide stroke prevention and long-term management. Systems of structured stroke management in general practice are essential to comprehensive national programmes of stroke care.