A hospital trust has been revealed as one of the worst in the country for the time it takes for stroke patients to get vital brain scans.
More than a third of stroke patients (36.3%) waited over 12 hours for a brain scan at North Hartlepool and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust – the highest for a major hospital trust anywhere in England in 2015-16.
That compared to just 1% at King’s College Hospital in London.
The Stroke Association highlighted the ‘postcode lottery’ as part of a campaign calling on the Government to give all hospitals the support they need.
The hospital trust, which runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool and University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, says the figures are disappointing but has assured patients its stroke services are of a high standard.
It added it has already taken steps to improve things.
It is unacceptable that your postcode determines whether or not you face treatment delays if you have a strokeJuliet Bouverie, Stroke Association Chief Executive
Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said: “Stroke is a medical emergency, and when swift treatment is not given to those who need it, people’s recoveries are put at risk.
“The longer a patient waits for a brain scan, the longer it will be before they receive the right treatment, and they are more likely to be left with a serious disability as a result.
“It is unacceptable that your postcode determines whether or not you face treatment delays if you have a stroke.”
The North Tees and Hartlepool trust was also tenth bottom nationally for stroke patients receiving a brain scan within one hour of entering hospital at 28.6%.
The best performing was Eastbourne District General Hospital where the rate was 81%.
Professor Jane Metcalf, deputy medical director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “Naturally this is disappointing, however our stroke services are of a very good standard and we can assure patients and their families that we are offering good care to stroke patients.
“We have plans in place, which we’re monitoring closely and we’re already taking action to make improvements to provide the best care for our patients.”
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of Hartlepool council’s Audit and Governance Committee highlighted the figures during talks on its investigation into the trust’s higher than average death rates.
He said: “This surely has had an effect on mortality.”