STROKE victims from Sidmouth could have to travel to Exeter – instead of Exmouth or Crediton – for their rehabilitation as part of plans to improve services.

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Health bosses are keen to hear residents’ thoughts after admitting their current system is not making ‘best use’ of the specialist skills on offer to patients.

Householders are being urged to complete a survey and attend a public focus group at Sidmouth Fire Station, in Woolbrook Road, from 11am to 12.30pm on Monday, February 3.

Stroke sufferers can currently go for rehabilitation at units in Exmouth or Crediton after receiving initial care at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. NHS chiefs are now consulting on plans to close both of the towns’ units in favour of a single hub – understood to be in the city.

Dr Joe Mays, of the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We want to develop stroke services for people in Sidmouth and would like to hear people’s thoughts on how we could do this.

“The clinical commissioning group has been working closely with specialists in both NHS providers, as well as with advisers from the Stroke Association, on proposals to improve the service for patients and their carers.

“At the moment patients with enough support, and who are well enough to continue their rehabilitation at home, will usually go home directly from the RD&E’s stroke unit. Our emphasis on helping people to return directly home will continue.

“Some patients need more support and care for a longer period of time. Currently, these patients move from the RD&E to the stroke rehabilitation units at Exmouth and Crediton community hospitals, and they might need to stay in the rehabilitation unit for many weeks.

“Although the outcomes for patients and carers using the existing community stroke rehabilitation units are good and the experience is normally very positive, travelling to the units can be difficult for families, especially if they are using public transport.

“Added to this, we have learned that dispersing the nursing and clinical teams over two small units does not make the best use of highly specialist skills and resources to bring maximum benefit for patients.

“In view of this your local clinicians have been looking at the possibility of consolidating the rehabilitation units onto one site.”

Anyone interested in completing a survey or taking part on the group can contact the Stroke Association’s Ann Fugler, on 01392 447 361 between 9am and 1pm from Monday to Thursday.

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