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Health Matters - Hospital stroke services are England's finest

Health Matters - Hospital stroke services are England's finest
17 May 2017

Dr Paul Bowen, clinical chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, and GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton

Eastern Cheshire people who unfortunately have a stroke are now getting the best hospital care in England, according to latest data.

What that means is that Eastern Cheshire patients now receive the highest standards of stroke care - such as access to urgent brain scanning 24/7 - which are known to lead to shorter stays in hospital and better outcomes in terms of survival and disability.

Our table-topping performance was revealed by the Royal College of Physicians when it published its national stroke audit data for August to November 2016 – the latest period for which figures exist.

Back in 2014, we were in the bottom quarter of clinical commissioning group (CCG) areas for hospital stroke care but performance has been transformed by an arrangement we put in place in 2015 for patients in the critical first four hours of stroke to be taken to a specialist stroke centre for advanced treatments including a “clot-busting” therapy called thrombolysis.

The new service was developed in partnership with East Cheshire NHS Trust, the Stroke Association and Greater Manchester Stroke Operational Delivery Network. Since last October, the service has been replicated by 12 other CCGs in and around Greater Manchester.

Patients from most of our area are taken to Stepping Hill Hospital or Salford Royal Hospital. However, patients from Congleton and Holmes Chapel go to Royal Stoke University Hospital.

Since October 2016 patients have remained at these specialist centres so they can receive acute and rehabilitative stroke care in the hospital before returning home – which is happening far more quickly than before. Under the old service, patients spent an average 32 days in hospital. But length of stay is now 20 days, meaning that people are now spending around a third less time in hospital.

However, we’re not resting on our laurels. We recognise that we need to work with health and social care partners to implement specialist community stroke rehabilitation to further improve the psychological support, dietary advice and practical home help that patients require after they’re discharged from hospital.

We also know we must do more to prevent cardio vascular disease – a major cause of stroke – and to detect and manage atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm which is hard to spot but can also cause stroke. At the same time, we’re working with our partners in the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Plan to promote healthier lifestyles by tackling high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and dangerous drinking.