The NHS in Kent and Medway, Bexley in south east London and the High Weald area of East Sussex, is today launching a public consultation on the future of urgent stroke services in Kent and Medway. The NHS is asking for people’s views on proposals to establish new 24/7 hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway. The consultation runs from today, Friday 2 February 2018 for 10 weeks until midnight on Friday 13 April 2018.
To take part, people can read the consultation document, participate in public meetings and events, and complete an online or postal questionnaire. There will also be specific engagement through focus groups and other work with people whose views are less likely to be heard, and people whose age, ethnicity or other factors puts them at higher risk of a stroke.
Dr Mike Gill, Independent Chair of the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups for Kent and Medway Hyper Acute and Acute Stroke Services said, “This consultation is an opportunity to make your voice heard and help us design the best stroke services in Kent and Medway. We encourage everyone to respond, whether you have been involved in the earlier work or not; whether you work in the local NHS or are a resident; whether you have first-hand experience of stroke or not. All views are important to us.”
At the moment there are no hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway, and urgent stroke care is provided at six hospitals. The changes to stroke services are being proposed because currently hospitals are not able to consistently deliver the standard and quality of stroke care that people should be able to expect.
The proposals have been developed by stroke doctors and other stroke specialists. They are in line with evidence-based best practice on how urgent stroke services can be run to give patients the best possible outcomes and reduce death and disability from stroke.
The proposals recommend creating three hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway and give five different options for where these three new units could be located. If the proposals go ahead, urgent stroke services would not be provided in other hospitals in Kent and Medway.
Each of the proposed hyper acute sites would 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).
The shortlist of possible locations is:
1. Darent Valley Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
2. Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
3. Maidstone Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
4. Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
5. Darent Valley Hospital, Tunbridge Wells Hospital and William Harvey Hospital
The order of the shortlist is not a ranking and no preferred option will be identified until doctors and others taking the decision about the future organisation of stroke services have fully and carefully considered all the evidence and data available, including feedback from the public consultation.
“I am delighted that we’re launching this consultation today. There is clear evidence that patients benefit most from being treated at a hyper acute stroke unit in the first 72 hours after their stroke, even if that means ambulances driving past the nearest A&E department to get to one,” said Dr David Hargroves, clinical lead for the stroke review and senior stroke consultant at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.
“We know that patients might currently be able to get to an A&E fairly quickly and the thought of travelling further seems to go against the ‘Act F.A.S.T.’ advice. With stroke, what counts is the total time it takes from calling 999 to having a scan and starting the right treatment. Spending 15 minutes in an ambulance but waiting three hours in A&E is worse than an hour in an ambulance going to a specialist unit that can scan you and start treatment within 30 minutes of arrival. It is also vital for patients’ recovery that over those first three days they are seen by a stroke consultant every day, and regularly assessed by specialist therapists – something we can’t always offer at the moment.”
“Stroke is a medical emergency and the third most common cause of death for people under the age of 75 in the UK,” said Dr Diana Hamilton-Fairley, Medical Director of Medway NHS Foundation Trust. “Almost two-thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability, such as sight problems, limb weakness or communication problems. We are convinced these proposals for hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway will improve the quality of services and help us achieve better outcomes for the 3,000 stroke patients treated in our area each year.”
“Across Kent and Medway, stroke services are not consistently organised in a way that delivers the most efficient or effective care. Experience elsewhere has shown that consolidating stroke teams should provide better care in the future: that must be the aim of us all,” said Dr Steve Fenlon, Medical Director of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust. “The involvement of the public will help us shape the model of care and provide support to our committed healthcare professionals delivering this vitally important service.”
Dr Peter Maskell, Medical Director at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, said: “We welcome the opportunity to take part in this important consultation to improve stroke care for patients across Kent and Medway, and encourage as many people as possible to take part so their views are heard.”
A meeting on 31 January 2018 of the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups for Kent and Medway Hyper Acute and Acute Stroke Services, which has delegated authority from each of the eight Kent and Medway clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHS Bexley CCG and NHS High Weald Lewes Havens CCG, gave the go-ahead to the public consultation which is launching today, 2 February 2018. It will run for ten weeks, until midnight 13 April 2018.
To find out more about how to respond to the consultation, please visit www.kentandmedway.nhs.uk/stroke.