Better care for stroke patients

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STROKE patients benefit from improved care locally, with more and more spending their time in hospital on a specialist stroke unit.

A recent study by the NHS in the south found that threequarters of people suffering from a stroke (76.7 per cent) spent at least 90 per cent of their stay on a stroke unit between July and September last year – up 10 per cent in 18 months.

And the per cent age of patients who suffered a mini-stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and were scanned in hospital within 24 hours also improved in the same period, up from 43.4 per cent to 59 per cent.

As part of a shake-up in stroke treatment, specialists have been made available to cast an eye over patients 24 hours a day seven days a week in both Surrey and Kent, thanks largely to the fact that telemedicine technology allows senior stroke clinicians to assess patients via computer.

And, by April, the DGH hopes to be up and running with a similar scheme – meaning vital early treatments will become even more common.

Professor William Roche, NHS South of England Medical Director (East) said, “The NHS in the South East is working very hard to ensure people have the very best stroke care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where in the region they live.

“Through the hard work and dedication of clinicians, nurses, healthcare workers and management teams we have seen great improvements to the care people in the region now receive.”

Suffering a stroke is the third largest cause of death in England, with 110,000 people having a stroke each year with close to 6,000 people suffering a stroke in the south east in 2010-11.

A quarter of strokes occur in people who are under 65 and usually without warning. During a stroke brain cells die, so fast action is needed to stop further brain injury, improving chances of survival and helping to prevent disability.

Just last week the Herald featured the physio team at the DGH, whose staff spoke of the importance in diagnosing and treating strokes as quickly as possible.

Principal physiotherapist Karen Pool said, “With the way we work here it is about getting stroke patients on the unit within a matter of hours.”