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You will be cared for on the dedicated stroke unit for as long as necessary.

The average length of stay on a stroke unit is:

  • your initial treatment is often the most intensive part of your hospital care and can last up to seven days
  • the ongoing stroke care in a hospital usually then lasts from day seven up to day 28
  • in some areas, the ongoing stroke care after day seven may take place in a community hospital or rehabilitation unit


What you can expect

These are the standards that you should expect:


National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Quality Standard for Stroke


Patients with suspected stroke are admitted directly to a specialist acute stroke unit and assessed for thrombolysis, receiving it if clinically indicated.

What this means for you:

  • All hospitals that care for people who have had a suspected stroke, must have a specialist stroke unit or ward where the medical, nursing and therapy staff are specially trained in working with people who have had strokes.
  • The expectation should be that all patients with a suspected or diagnosed stroke are admitted to the specialist stroke unit, though the national Accelerating Stroke Improvement programme have an aspiration that at least 90% of patients are directly admitted to a stroke unit.
  • The specialist stroke team must assess all patients to see if they would benefit from thrombolysis (the "clot busting" drug if the cause of your stroke is a blood clot) and be able to administer the medicine at any time of day or night. Only a small proportion of patients will be clinically indicated to receive thrombolysis and these should be set out in locally agreed clinical guidelines.

There is comparative data on the hospital's performance on the local proportion of patients who are directly admitted to a stroke unit.


Patients with acute stroke have their swallowing screened by a specially trained healthcare professional within 4 hours of admission to hospital, before being given oral food, fluid or medication, and they have an ongoing management plan for the provision of adequate nutrition.

What this means for you:

  • At all times of day and night, there needs to be a specially trained member of staff on duty who can assess whether you can swallow properly.
  • If you have a problem with swallowing then the team will help you immediately and you will have intensive support from a professional specially training in dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) within 24 hours.


Patients with stroke are assessed and managed by stroke nursing staff and at least one member of the specialist rehabilitation team within 24 hours of admission to hospital and by all relevant members of the specialist rehabilitation team within 72 hours, with documented multidisciplinary goals agreed within 5 days.

What this means for you:

  • You should expect to spend all your time in hospital in a specialist stroke unit and the national Department of Health standard is that at least 80% of patients should spend at least 90% of their time in hospital on a specialist stroke unit.
  • You should be cared for by a team of healthcare professionals who are specially trained in working with people who have had a stroke. This team will be based around the specialist stroke unit in the hospital.
  • The team will include nurses and therapists as well as the medical staff.
  • At least one of the therapists should have assessed you within 24 hours of admission and all relevant members of the team within 72 hours.
  • You should have been able to discuss with the team the care plan which sets out your personal goals and the therapy you will receive within 5 days of admission to hospital.