DELAYED calls to 999 due to concerns, unavailable treatments and cancelled rehabilitation therapies caused by the pandemic has taken a considerable toll on stoke survivors.

This is according to Ambleside's Colyn Earnshaw, whose vital physiotherapy has been put to a stop due to the pandemic.

Mr Earnshaw, 76, had a stroke in 2019 while he was on holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

A former teacher and professional mountaineering instructor, he was left with one-sided weakness and fatigue following the stroke.

Mr Earnshaw received occupational therapy and physiotherapy while in hospital. While this should have continued at home, the Covid-19 pandemic prevented this from happening.

“I didn’t have my first physiotherapy session until the end of January 2020,” he explained.

“The physiotherapist then went off sick so it wasn’t until February that I started properly with two brilliant physiotherapy sessions.

“I asked to use the gym equipment and managed to use the rowing machine, static bike and the cross trainer. I’m a hard task master for myself and was determined to get better. Then everything was cancelled due to Covid-19 and lockdown. It all fell apart.”

The Stroke Association said this week that cancellations, delays to care and the climate of uncertainty created by the pandemic have exacerbated mental health problems among stroke survivors nationwide, arguing the last six months have taken a ‘devastating’ toll on tens of thousand of survivors and their families.

The charity now calls for ‘immediate actions’ to stem a ‘rising tide’ of demand on the NHS and UK health services that could ‘take years to solve’ if left unchecked.

“I think lockdown has made a massive impact on my recovery,” Mr Earnshaw added. “I’ve had no physiotherapy at all since. The nearest swimming pool is Kendal and I don’t drive at the moment, which means I have to get a bus which takes hours there and back.

“I have always been fit. I played football and basketball, went fell running, I climbed all manner of mountains for years, and used to cycle. But I can’t do any of that now. The government has failed vulnerable people in lockdown.”