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The NHS in Kent and Medway has announced proposals to create three new ‘hyper acute’ stroke units in Kent and Medway.
Although general stroke services are currently provided in Kent and Medway’s hospitals, there are no specialist hyper acute units that in other parts of the country have been shown to improve outcomes for those who have suffered from a stroke.
The new units will enable people to get the best care in the vital first few hours and days immediately after their stroke - saving lives and reducing disability.
The NHS is proposing to turn three existing stroke units into specialist hyper acute stroke units, providing expert care from a team of stroke specialists and therapists round the clock with consultants on the wards seven days a week.
Each of the sites will also have an acute stroke unit to give patients expert care after the first 72 hours until they are ready to leave hospital, and a clinic for assessing and treating transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs or mini strokes).
With the creation of the new hyper acute stroke units, urgent stroke services would not be provided at the other acute hospitals in Kent and Medway.
Making these changes will require up to £40 million investment in building work and equipment at hospitals and for recruiting more staff across the county, but experience from elsewhere shows costs reduced overall when patients are diagnosed and treated faster.
The proposals should additionally mean long-term financial benefits for the NHS and social care, and, therefore, significantly contribute to the longer-term sustainability of health and social care services in Kent and Medway.
David Hargroves, clinical lead for the stroke review, said: “This is incredibly good news because it means we will be able to ensure everyone treated in Kent and Medway gets the best care, no matter what time of day, day of the week or where they are when the stroke happens.
“Currently, although stroke staff do their very best, the way services are organised means that some people do not get the right treatment fast enough, particularly overnight and at weekends. Centralising urgent stroke care in three excellent hyper acute stroke units would change all that. Our dedicated staff would then be able to ensure the 3,000 people treated in Kent and Medway for a stroke every year get care which is right up there with the best in the country.”
Diana Hamilton-Fairley, medical director at Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I very much support the plan for three hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway so that the people of Medway and Swale get the best possible care.
“I am pleased that Medway features in three of the options, however I am absolutely confident that even if there is no hyper acute stroke unit at their nearest hospital, all stroke patients will benefit hugely from getting expert care round the clock.
“What is most important is getting to a specialist unit after a stroke for your assessment and treatment, even if that means taking longer to get there and the ambulance bypassing your nearest hospital.
“In London, hyper acute stroke units have reduced deaths from stroke by nearly 100 a year. We want similar benefits for the population of Kent and Medway.”