MP’s wife still needs physio four years after enduring a life changing stroke

Sir Bob Neill, 71, said Ann-Louise, 67, is still having physiotherapy four years after she was struck down in 2019.

So he is proud to back the Daily Express’s new campaign with the Stroke Association to boost 24/7 nationwide access to a “wonder” procedure and increase long-term support and rehabilitation for patients.

Sir Bob, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, said: “Stroke is one of the leading causes of adult disability in the UK.

“It has happened to my wife. I’ve had my own family experience of this and I don’t want it to happen to anyone needlessly if we can put the interventions in place.

“This Daily Express campaign is right to shine a light on the less talked about issue of stroke which is so dear to my heart.”

One in four strokes in the UK hit working-age people, with a third of those unable to return to their careers afterwards.

READ MORE: Doctor warns of risk of stroke when cold weather sets in – tips to stay safe

A treatment called a thrombectomy, delivered soon after a stroke, can improve outcomes and help one in 10 patients. But getting access is a postcode lottery, with no service in some areas.

Sir Bob – co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Stroke – said he will never know if such a procedure could have helped Ann-Louise. The mum-of-two, an opera singer and music school director, suffered a stroke while moving her car.

The politician, pictured below, said: “The clot that caused her stroke had split in two and affected more than one part of her brain – leaving her with speech and balance issues. Had thrombectomies been rolled out nationally as they are starting to be now, who knows whether she would have been suitable for one and how that could have affected her recovery?

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“But Ann-Louise is still having physio and working on her balance and with speech therapists.”

Sir Bob said improvements are needed in after-care, thrombectomy access and also in retention and recruitment of support teams like speech therapists.

A thrombectomy is where a stent – passed up an artery or vein – pulls out the blood clot ­causing the stroke. It vastly reduces disability and can cut hospital stays by months. But while it is thought up to 10% of UK stroke patients may be eligible for one – over 9,000 every year – only 3,000 are carried out annually.

The Stroke Association says more investment is needed for 24/7 clinics to carry out the procedure.

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The charity’s chief Juliet Bouverie said: “We are incredibly grateful to have the backing from the Daily Express to help make stroke the priority it needs to be.”

The estimated cost of strokes is set to rise from £26billion in 2015 to £75billion in 2035. Dr Deb Lowe, NHS England’s clinical director for stroke, said hitting thrombectomy targets is a priority. She added: “The NHS remains on track to achieving a 10-fold increase in delivering this for eligible patients. We’re also prioritising delivery of specialist stroke rehabilitation at home and in care homes, as well as improving support and six-month follow-up reviews.”

To find out more about the Stroke Association or donate, visit or call the Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100

When Louise Grimes had a stroke at the age of 20 it was not diagnosed until three days later – and she believes she was not taken seriously because of her age.

She began feeling unwell after flying home to the UK from a visit to her parents in Ireland in 2016. Louise, left, now 27, said: “I woke up and felt really ill – almost like I had a severe hangover. I vomited a couple of times.

“I went to my friend’s house and the room started spinning. I was so dizzy. My co-ordination went. I went into her garden and vomited. I never in a million years thought it would be true – that I was having a stroke.”

The next morning Louise could not feel the toes on her left foot but her GP dismissed it as an allergic reaction. However, that night she had the “most severe pain” in her head. Louise from Wigan, said: “I felt like my head was going to explode. Trying to get down the stairs I was crashing into the walls. My sister called an ambulance.”

Even though she could not speak, see or walk, paramedics would not take her to hospital. Her sister rang 999 again and a second ambulance took her in but she was misdiagnosed with an ear infection.

Three days later, an MRI scan found she had a stroke caused by a hole in her heart. Louise, who still suffers after-effects, said: “I feel because I was so young I wasn’t taken seriously.”

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