JUST days after the Herald revealed plans to centralise stroke care at either the DGH or its sister site in Hastings, management at the NHS trust have introduced equipment which means a patient does not have to be in the same room as a consultant to be assessed.
Last week the Herald exposed plans to cut a host of services across East Sussex, with plans afoot to downgrade departments at either of the two main hospitals in favour of consultant-led units at the other.
And as well as maternity and paediatrics, specialist stroke care was among those earmarked for the chop.
Then East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs the DGH and Conquest, announced the introduction of a new telemedicine system which uses technology to allow stroke consultants to make potentially life-saving decisions about the treatment of patients, even when they are not present in the hospital.
The new system uses a high-definition video camera and television which enables the consultants to make quick clinical decisions from locations outside the hospital, be it their home or another hospital, at any time of the day or night.
Drug treatment, called thrombolysis, can significantly reduce the disabling damage of a stroke but must be delivered within four and a half hours of the onset of symptoms in order to be effective. The new technology reduces any potential delays in consultants prescribing the drug.
The system will also allow doctors to talk to patients using video and audio links and view scans from a lap-top.
Dr Mohammad Rahmani, consultant physician and clinical lead for stroke medicine, said, “Thrombolysis is suitable for around 10-15 per cent of stroke patients and can significantly reduce the likelihood of long-term disability or even death.
“It works by dissolving the clot lodged in the brain, allowing the blood flow to resume but it must be administered as soon as possible, within four and a half hours of the onset of the stroke for it to be effective.”
Above: Staff from the Stroke Unit on Wilmington Ward at Eastbourne DGH with the new telemedicine system.