Stroke could cost UK £75bn by 2035, charity warns

The number of people suffering a stroke for the first time is expected to rise by more than 50% by 2035, costing the UK more than £75 billion for care and lost productivity, a charity has said.

The Stroke Association urged the next government to invest more in prevention, as well as addressing issues with stroke treatment and rehabilitation services.

Failing to do so could risk demand on NHS services becoming “unsustainable” in 11 years’ time, it said.

A new manifesto published by the charity estimated that stroke will cost the UK about £43 billion this year, with 100,000 new stroke hospital admissions per year.

This could rise to 151,000 admissions by 2035 – the equivalent of 414 per day – with the number of stroke survivors rising from 1.3 million to 2.1 million.

Costs associated with the increase could top £75 billion, which includes projected increases in health and social care costs, as well as informal care costs.

About a quarter of strokes impact people of working age, with lost productivity currently costing an estimated £1.6 billion per year.

This too is expected to rise by 136% by 2035, according to the report.

Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, warned that the “demand for NHS services will be unsustainable by 2035″.

“If the next government fails to tackle prevention, treatment, and recovery at the root, then stroke will become the most avoidable burden on the NHS,” she added.

The Stroke Association is calling on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to publish a funded stroke prevention plan to support people of all ages to reduce their risk of stroke.

This includes improving the way people detect and manage conditions that increase the risk of stroke, such as high blood pressure.

The charity also wants all patients to have 24-hour access to thrombectomies – a surgery to remove blood clots from the artery.

The procedure is usually carried out up to six hours after stroke symptoms begin.

The Stroke Association estimates that making thrombectomies universally available could save the health and care system £73 million each year and would allow 1,600 more stroke survivors to be independent.

It also called for the Government to address issues in access to rehabilitation and support services, such as the Life After Stroke programme.

Stroke survivor Marwar Uddin, 24, from London, spoke about the long-term impact of the condition and how support services have helped him.

He said: “I need help to go to the toilet. I can’t even dress myself. My voice is different now. I’m a different person. I cry myself to sleep most days. It’s difficult for me.

“Thanks to Life After Stroke services, I’ve slowly been rebuilding myself and I am also set to start a phased return to work later this year.

“If I didn’t have any of this support, I think I would still be in a chair in my living room watching the world go by.”

Ms Bouverie added: “Every stroke is a tragedy, but 151,000 strokes per year, and growing each year, will be a failure of leadership.

“In 2000, stroke was the second leading cause of death in the UK but by making stroke a national priority reflected in local resources, stroke mortality was halved by 2010. So, change is possible.”

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We’re committed to improving stroke prevention, treatment, and recovery for all.

“Over 90% of acute stroke care providers in England are equipped with artificial intelligence, which can reduce the time it takes to access treatment such as thrombectomy by more than 60 minutes.

“The first ever Long Term Workforce Plan will help to shift more care into the community and invest more in prevention and early intervention, and we’re rolling out a new digital NHS Health Check which could prevent hundreds more strokes.

“We are also taking action to encourage better lifestyle choices, including creating a smoke-free generation and reducing salt intake through food to help prevent the risk of strokes.”