ONE of the most controversial topics dominating the Welsh political scene in recent years has been the reorganisation of local health services.

The arguments have been repeated many times by both sides of the debate and there is no point in repeating them here in this column.

However, I would like to draw attention to one aspect which doesn’t always get much coverage – that of aftercare for sufferers of strokes.

In the Assembly we occasionally get the chance to highlight issues important to us or our constituency using short debates, the equivalent of adjournment debates at Westminster.

I have secured one next month, and have chosen to speak about the importance of support and aftercare for stroke victims.

Strokes are the third biggest killer in Wales, after heart disease and cancer, and the leading cause of adult disability, but despite the work of the Stroke Association they don’t always receive the same level of attention as these two awful diseases.

Research shows that two per cent of the population has suffered from a stroke.

Across the UK fewer people are dying from a stroke, meaning that more people are living with strokes.

Here in Monmouthshire we are lucky with an excellent service provided by Nevill Hall to treat strokes when they happen, and some excellent support services, including the Chepstow Stroke Club of which I am a dedicated supporter.

With more stroke sufferers surviving, it is vital that we have the right tools in place to aid the recovery process and help patients lead full and fruitful lives.

The Royal College of Physicians state that “patients should be offered a minimum of 45 minutes of each therapy for a minimum of five days a week for as long as the patient continues to benefit from the therapy”.

Here in Wales, 13 of the 14 stroke units are delivering below these national guidelines, making Wales the worse of the UK nations in delivering this aftercare.

I accept that the Welsh Government is operating under tight financial constraints, but I am determined, along with fellow Assembly Members to highlight the need for these additional support services.

The Stroke Association last month launched a Stroke Solidarity String to highlight its fundraising campaign.

To learn more about strokes and how to access support and to fundraise please visit