STROKE, despite often being a preventable disease, is the fourth single leading cause of death in the UK and the single largest cause of complex disability in adults.

In County Durham and Darlington stroke affects around 1,000 people each year. When a stroke strikes, what matters is getting the right treatment quickly in the right place.

Since centralising immediate stroke care services at University Hospital North Durham, we have seen increased improvements in the outcomes for patients, but we recognise that stroke rehabilitation could still be improved.

At present when patients are discharged from the immediate stroke care ward into a community setting, they receive varying levels of therapy input. A proportion of patients, approximately 20 per cent, require longer inpatient specialist rehabilitation and are currently transferred to Bishop Auckland Hospital’s stroke rehabilitation unit, with an average stay of 20 days.

The Northern Echo: Dr Stewart Findlay, NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG and NHS North Durham CCG chief officerDr Stewart Findlay, NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG and NHS North Durham CCG chief officer

Our aim is to create improvements across the whole of County Durham and Darlington so more patients are discharged in a timely manner, with seamless care and rehabilitation during their hospital stay, before returning earlier to their own home to be looked after in their own surroundings. As part of this we have invested significantly into community services across the local area.

In our public consultation we have put forward two proposals for the future of stroke rehabilitation services at Bishop Auckland Hospital:

• Keep the service as it is

• Combine immediate stroke care and in-patient rehabilitation under one roof at University Hospital of North Durham, with all staff on one specialist site, providing continuity of care and ensuring a robust pathway between hospital and community.

As part of this consultation we want to know what you think. We will be holding four public events. These will provide opportunities for you to hear about the options presented and share your views. They are on:

Saturday, January 25: 10am-noon at Bishop Auckland Football Club, DL14 9AE

Tuesday, February 4: 6pm-8pm at Durham Town Hall, DH1 3NJ

Thursday, February 6: 10am-noon at The Witham, Barnard Castle, DL12 8LY

Tuesday, February 11: 1pm-3pm at St Augustine Parish Centre, Darlington DL3 7TG.

Share your comments and register for our public events by e-mailing or calling our answerphone service on 0191 3898609.