Quality Standards
Issued: June 2010

Stroke quality standard

Introduction and overview

This quality standard covers care provided to adult stroke patients by healthcare staff during diagnosis and initial management, acute-phase care, rehabilitation and long-term management.


Stroke is a preventable and treatable disease. It can present with the sudden onset of any neurological disturbance, including limb weakness or numbness, speech disturbance, visual loss or disturbance of balance. Over the last 20 years, a growing body of evidence has overturned the traditional perception that stroke is simply a consequence of ageing that inevitably results in death or severe disability. Evidence is accumulating for more effective primary and secondary prevention strategies, better recognition of people at highest risk who are most in need of active intervention, interventions that are effective soon after the onset of symptoms, and an understanding of the processes of care that contribute to a better outcome. There is also now good evidence to support interventions and care processes in stroke rehabilitation. In the UK, the National Sentinel Stroke Audits have documented changes in secondary care provision over the last 10 years, with increasing numbers of patients being treated in stroke units, more evidence-based practice, and reduced mortality and length of hospital stay. This quality standard provides clinicians, managers and service users with a description of what a high-quality stroke service should look like.


The quality standard for stroke requires that services should be commissioned from and coordinated across all relevant agencies encompassing the whole stroke care pathway. An integrated approach to provision of services is fundamental to the delivery of high quality care to people with stroke.