STROKE victims in Halton have been thrown a lifeline after Halton Primary Care Trust made a dramatic U-turn to keep Stroke Association Halton alive - three months after it said it would close.
The borough's branch of Stroke Association has been granted a six month reprieve while Halton PCT conjures up a restructuring plan which it claims will develop new services for patients who have been struck down by the condition.
Before the backtrack hundreds of patients faced the prospect of fending for themselves after alleging Halton Primary Care Trust had 'pulled the plug' on the service.
Julie Harris, of Norton Cross in Runcorn and a volunteer of The Stroke Association, at the time said: 'We are all in complete uproar over this. In fact we are disgusted that the PCT can just close The Stroke Association down.
'We provide more than 63 essential services to patients and families in Widnes and Runcorn and now they are being left with nowhere to go.
But a spokeswoman said: 'Halton PCT is continuing to develop service specifications for a range of health services currently available to the residents of Halton.
'Stroke services continue to be subject to such review and the PCT, along with other local stake-holders, patients, users and carers are currently working collaboratively to develop stroke services to better meet the needs of our local population.
'The PCT was able to offer an extension to its current contract with the Stroke Association and will be working closely with staff to ensure that this extended service provides value for money and meets with the needs and expectations of our service users.
'Once the PCT has had the opportunity to develop an improved service framework for the full range of stroke services, elements are likely to be put out to tender. The Stroke Association will of course have the opportunity to submit a bid at that stage, if appropriate.'
Bob Bryant, chairman of the Let's Go stroke club which is the leading group of its kind in the country, said he was pleased with the news.
He said: 'I'm glad to hear that something is being put in place and the services are being kept on.
'Even if the services were going to be cut I would not leave anyone high and dry and make sure that people would be looked after.'