‘Critical Hours’ Stroke ServicesTo Be Improved

Local doctors are planning to improve the first ‘critical hours’ of care for patients from Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven who have suffered a stroke by providing a single site emergency stroke service for the district.

The service, based at Bradford Royal Infirmary, will provide round the clock care, seven days a week, giving patients access to the specialist skills, tests and treatments needed to save more lives, improve recovery and reduce disabilities that can result from a stroke – particularly in the first critical 48 hours of care.

The existing stroke unit at Airedale Hospital will remain as an acute stroke care and rehabilitation unit – 90% of the services it provides will be unaffected by this decision – and the two hyper acute stroke unit (HASU) ‘emergency’ beds will be transferred to Bradford Royal Infirmary alongside the existing HASU beds at that hospital.

As soon as patients have been stabilised by the team in Bradford, usually within 48 to 72 hours, patients from the Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven areas will be transferred to the hospital at Steeton for their ongoing acute stroke care and rehabilitation.

Stacey Hunter, director of operations at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Having a stroke is life changing but recovery is vastly improved if patients who have suffered a stroke have rapid access to the appropriate treatment in those first critical 48 hours.

“Due to a national shortage of stroke consultants, there is variation in the quality and provision of stroke services across Bradford and Airedale, as there is throughout West Yorkshire, which is why we started a review of stroke care in the district earlier this year.  This highlighted future stroke consultant shortages at Airedale Hospital indicating that the unit would be unable to provide the 24/7 access to the expertise needed by patients in an emergency going forward.

“Bradford has already been supporting our out of hours ‘critical hours’ care for these patients so moving the two HASU beds to Bradford builds on this and ensures our local population has a safe and consistent service, close by, that improves care and the future quality of life for stroke patients.

“As a hospital we are committed to providing services for our local community and invested over £6 million in our new Emergency Department only last year.”

Dr Bryan Gill, medical director for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The development of a single site for the care of stroke patients in the critical first 48 hours will improve outcomes for individual patients and in addition deliver one of the best stroke services in the UK.”

The changes have been agreed by the local partnership of hospital providers and GP commissioners, which includes representatives from Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford District Clinical Commissioning Groups.  They are also supported by both the regional stroke clinical network and NHS England.

Dr Phil Pue, chief clinical officer at NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Moving the care of our local hyper acute stroke patients to Bradford for the first critical 48 hours will save lives and improve their recovery, which is our top priority.  The service will provide round the clock expertise, faster scans and quicker access to appropriate treatment for patients from Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven and transfer them to Airedale Hospital after a couple of days, once they have been stabilised, for their ongoing care and rehabilitation.

“To ensure that the new service meets the needs of the local population, we will be engaging with patients, the public and other stakeholders, to find out what is important to them when accessing stroke services and how the changes could impact on their lives.  The aim is to identify any issues we have not considered and the potential service improvements that should be discussed.”

The decision will be discussed at the meetings, in public, of both Bradford and North Yorkshire Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees next week.

The new service is expected to be up and running by the summer.


ENDS