'First class' - Couple's praise for service after life-changing stroke

Stroke survivor Sue Jones with her husband David Jones. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Stroke survivor Sue Jones with her husband David Jones. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

A stroke survivor has praised the “first-class” care being delivered in Norfolk in spite of the huge impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In March 2017, Sue Jones was attending dance classes, working part-time as a chef and had never spent a day in hospital in her life, until she suffered a stroke in the middle of a class. 

The Tasburgh resident, was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and it was found the stroke impacted on her speech and her mobility. 

Then 65, Mrs Jones spent four months in hospital before beginning her post-stroke recovery. 

After intensive physio and speech therapy every day in hospital, she received community treatment for about six weeks. After the service finished, Mrs Jones and her husband, David, continued to pay for support privately. 

Mrs Jones, 69, was left with spasticity, where muscles can become stiff and overactive, causing pain and an inability to move parts of the body. 

Mrs Jones experienced it in her legs and arms and treatment helped to improve it, but the spasticity in her right arm, hand and fingers was more difficult to resolve.  

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From 2018, working with the stroke team at the NNUH she began having botulinum toxin injections, which can be known as botox, and the couple say the treatment has significantly improves her arm movement. 

Supporting her on her journey was Dr Annie Chakrabarti, NNUH stroke consultant, who has spent the last five year heading up delivery of post-stroke spasticity at the hospital. 

Mr Jones said: "The reality is Sue does not really have much movement at all in her hand. She has a little movement in the arm to speak of, maybe 10pc of what you would expect.  

Stroke survivor Sue Jones. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Stroke survivor Sue Jones.  - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

"It's a very long term and gradual process, you just have to do as much as you can and try and get a fraction better all the time and beat it, as Sue says.”  

Mr Jones said the treatment has been significant in her recovery progress, and it was felt when an appointment had to be missed in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Restrictions closed all services back in March, with the team able to offer telephone consultations to patients, before being allowed to resume face to face services in the summer. 

A retired farm worker died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, an inquest heard. Photo:

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: Nick Butcher

In August, Mr Jones inquired if services had resumed and an appointment took place two weeks later. 

He said; "From our point of view the service is invaluable and the improvement in the quality of life is enormous. 

"For people who had strokes in earlier this year it must have been hell, a nightmare, they wouldn't have had visitors, they would have been locked in hospital. It must have been horrible. 

“I have nothing but the highest praise for Dr Chakrabarti and her team they really are first class. I'm amazed they got it working so quickly because there must have been a backlog." 

During the pandemic, Dr Chakrabarti and her team have been able to reduce the backlog of patients waiting for treatment to a near zero waiting list by putting on additional clinics.

Dr Chakrabarti said; "We have been working very hard since 2015 to be where we are today and we are very pleased with the progress we have made and that would not have been possible without everybody's hard work."

She said it was equally important to ensure stroke patients receive the same level of care post-stroke as in immediate treatment and was taking steps to get the service commissioned. 

NNUH's proposed

Annie Chakrabarti pictured at the launch of the hospital's mobile stroke unit. - Credit: NNUH

Working alongside the hospital is the acute team at Norwich Community Hospital, which provides  intensive rehab for patients discharged from and community services in people's homes. 

The Colman Rehab Centre is a tier one centre supporting the most severe cases of the condition. 

Stroke survivor Sue Jones. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Stroke survivor Sue Jones.  - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Louise Gilbert, from the community hospital, praised the work of the service's spasticity champions who ensure patients are identified and receive treatment as early as possible. 

She said the condition affects around 38pc of people after they have had a stroke and also impacted on carers trying to help them in their recovery.