BURNLEY MP Peter Pike has called for the government to improve the services available to stroke sufferers.

He has quizzed Health Minister John Hutton on the issue urging him to make the treatment of strokes a major priority for the National Health Service.

Mr Hutton said that part of a drive to improve NHS provision for older people the reduction of stroke victims and their effective treatment and rehabilitation was now a high priority.

Every general hospital in Britain has to produce plans by April next year to bring in a specialist stroke service from 2004.

Mr Pike welcomed Mr Hutton's promise, but he called for urgent action to be taken.

He said: "Strokes are a major killer and are the number one cause of disability in older people.

"Burnley has considerably improved its service to stroke victims over the last few years but there is an urgent need in East Lancashire and elsewhere for more speedily available physiotherapy service for stroke patients."