Patients getting ‘good stroke care’

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A HEALTH trust is performing well above average in the way it treats suspected stroke victims.

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, ranked in the top half of UK health bodies for its hospital results in the first three months of this year.

The figures were released by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) which also ranked each trust into one of four sectors depending on its performance.

The trust serving Hartlepool and the surrounding areas came out with a second “quartile” ranking which meant it was in the top half, but not in the top quarter.

Today, clinical director for medicine and elderly care for the trust, Dr Jean MacLeod, said: “We narrowly missed being in the top 25 per cent on our performance between January and March this year which is a little disappointing.

“However, our stroke services are of a very good standard and this report should assure patients and families that we are offering good stroke care.

“We will look at all the areas in this report and ensure we maintain the high levels in the areas where we scored well.

“We have already taken action to improve in the very few areas which have, over this three-month period, pulled our score down slightly.

“I would like to pay tribute to the whole team involved in providing this service – doctors, nurses, radiographers and radiologists, physiotherapists, occupational and speech and language therapists, community teams as well as the support staff and The Stroke Association – which work tirelessly together to provide the best care for our patients.”

But the trust performed below the regional and national averages in other areas, including the rates for people given a brain scan within 24 hours.

Sixteen per cent were scanned within target in the trust compared to 32 per cent regionally and 35 per cent nationally.

And the rate of patients receiving thrombolysis (clot busting drug) when they were potentially eligible for it was 50 per cent compared to 56 per cent across the region and 61 per cent nationally.

Linda Cuthbertson, the head of public relations and public affairs for the Royal College of Physicians, said the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust had performed better than the national average in 10 of the 12 areas of care for stroke patients measured by the RCP’s national stroke audit.

She added: “It was particularly encouraging that nearly all stroke patients saw a stroke specialist within 24 hours of admission and that 70 per cent of patients were admitted directly to a specialist stroke unit within four hours of arriving at the hospital.

“Our research shows that patients get the best treatment and recover better from stroke if they are treated on a specialist stroke unit.”

The Hartlepool Mail is working with the Stroke Association in a month-long partnership to raise awareness of the devastating condition.

Anyone wanting to find out more should contact the Stroke Association helpline on 0303 3033100, or visit www.stroke.org.uk