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The report also found that only 14% of hospitals in England have early supported discharge teams and only a quarter have any form of specialist community stroke services.

The RCP's director of clinical effectiveness and evaluation, Dr Mike Pearson, said:

"Because most acute hospitals can provide good care there is no reason why the rest cannot do so too. The new challenge is to improve the aftercare of stroke within the community."

The Department of Health's national director for older people's services, Professor Ian Philp, added:

"I would like to congratulate the units on the work that has been done. An enormous amount has been achieved in the care of people with strokes. I welcome the report which alerts us to the work that is still needed if we are to ensure people who suffer strokes receive the care they deserve."

The report is available at http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/pubs/books/strokeaudit/

27.

Report on Social Care Regulation

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The report "Bridging the Gap - Participation in Social Care Regulation", from the Better Regulation Task Force, says that overly prescriptive regulation is taking away choice and independence for older and disabled people and calls for a review of the National Minimum Standards for social care services and for greater user participation in the regulatory process.

The report can be downloaded from the BRTF website http://www.brtf.gov.uk/

Commenting on the report, David Behan, Chief Inspector for the Commission for Social Care Inspection said that voluntary organisations providing valuable care services to local people must not have their efforts frustrated by rigid observance of rules and regulations. The CSCI's approach would be smart and flexible and would focus on how well services deliver for the people who rely on them - rather than rigid application of the regulations.

See the press release of 8 September on the CSCI website at: http://www.csci.org.uk/media/press_releases/08_09_04_rigid_observance_of_regulation.htm

28.

Strategic Agreement between the Department of Health, the NHS and the Voluntary   and Community Sector

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The Department of Health has published "Making partnership work for patients, carers and service users: A strategic agreement between the Department of Health, the NHS and the voluntary and community sector".

The jointly developed agreement provides a framework for a new strategic partnership between the Department of Health, NHS & Social Care and the Voluntary and Community Sector. It is the culmination of a programme of activity aimed at strengthening partnerships between the NHS and the private and VCS health care sectors in order to improve the quality and range of service planning and provision of NHS services. The Strategic Agreement is intended to underpin and complement, not replace, the existing Compact with the VCS sector and its Codes of Good Practice at all levels of partnership working.

The success of the Strategic Agreement depends on genuine and lasting partnership on the ground. A multi-stakeholder National Strategic Partnership Forum will support and build on this Strategic Agreement.

Reporting directly to Ministers, the Forum will have real influence, and will proactively focus on action to address the practical barriers to making partnership work on the ground.

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