Experts: Major Changes Needed In Stroke Care

Stroke Care Should Be Centralised, Experts Say

06.08.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Large specialist units should be created to treat stroke victims, according to a new study led by University College London.

The research discovered that the decision to overhaul stroke services in the capital, with care now focused on eight centres, is saving around 96 patients a year.

This result was compared to other locations - such as Greater Manchester - in which less dramatic changes to stroke care had been made. It was found that in these areas, the alterations had a reduced impact.

In London, a new system was adopted in 2010 under which anyone who suffers a stroke is taken to one of eight 24-hour specialist units, rather than simply the nearest unit in the network of 30 hospitals across the city. Patients are then assessed immediately, and given brain scans and clotting treatment where necessary.

However, in Greater Manchester, only those who are seen within four hours of suffering a stroke are taken to one of the three specialist units - just one of which is open 24 hours a day. Others are taken to one of ten district centres.

The survival rate was shown to increase by 1.1 per cent on the national average in London, but not in Greater Manchester - although the length of time patients spent in hospital reduced in both cases.

Professor Tony Rudd, England's national stroke director, said the report makes "a strong case" for the centralisation of all acute stroke care in heavily populated areas. "We need to spread this model to all urban areas," he insisted.

His comments were echoed by Dr Shamim Quadir of the Stroke Association, who said: "It has long been recognised that rapid, specialist medical treatment for stroke patients saves lives and reduces costs for the NHS.

"Centralising stroke care in hospitals throughout other large UK cities has the potential to save thousands of lives."

Expert Opinion
The findings of the study indicate a successful trial of specialist stroke units in London, which have contributed to saving the lives of 96 patients a year. We believe these specialist units should now be introduced across the nation to ensure all patients have access to the best possible care, regardless of where they live.

“Patient safety should always be a top priority and it is important that those undergoing treatment following a stroke are given the best possible care as early treatment and access to rehabilitation are vital in both saving lives and ensuring the fastest and best possible recovery.

“All too often we have seen incidents where patient care suffers as operational changes are made to departments and hospitals. It Is vital action is taken to prevent a fall in standards during the potential overhaul in the way stroke victims are cared for.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner