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Working towards excellent stroke care in Kent and Medway

Health commissioners from all eight clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Kent and Medway have been working in partnership on a review of acute stroke services over the last 12 months. The review is in response to national evidence, requirements, and recommendations specifically for ‘hyper-acute' and 'acute' stroke care - in particular, the need for a specialist stroke unit to be available seven days a week.

 The review focuses on best clinical practice to improve outcomes for patients, particularly in the first 72 hours after a stroke.

What is a stroke? 

Stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off by either a blockage or a bleed in one of the blood vessels. The first 72 hours after a stroke are the most important in terms of getting the right, specialist treatment for the patient as quickly as possible, so that there is less chance of harmful long-term effects on that person. 

“Excellent and swift care across Kent and Medway at the point of a stroke or suspected stroke, is only possible by arranging services so that enough specially skilled doctors and nurses are available in  stroke units designed for the particular needs of stroke patients. 

 “A stroke can be life-threatening, so doctors need access to rapid diagnostic tests to confirm what type of stroke has occurred and what specific treatment the person may need as quickly as possible, day or night and every day of the week.

"Evidence shows that to best maintain their skills, specialist stroke staff should treat somewhere between 600 and 1400 strokes, or suspected strokes every year”. Dr Hargroves, Stroke Consultant and Chair of the Clinical Reference Group for the Stroke Review 

Two thousand five hundred people have a stroke in Kent and Medway each year.   

Public and patient voice 

Stroke survivors, their families and carers, and members of the public have played a key part in shaping potential future models of care. Varied, robust and in-depth engagement has taken place with stroke specialists, clinical staff, voluntary organisations, stroke survivors, families and the public in Kent and Medway to gather people’s views and insight.  This has included surveys, focus groups, listening events and clinical engagement events.

In November and December 2015, three in-depth deliberative events, ‘People’s Panels’, looked in detail at the case for change, and questioned and challenged the proposals for improving future stroke care. They also voted on different aspects of services - establishing what they, as patients and carers, value most. 

In September and October 2016, there was a further series of events involving people who have had a stroke, their carers, and members of the public.  Healthwatch Kent and Stroke Association quizzed Dr Hargroves and the Programme Director Oena Windibank, commissioners and representatives from other organisations including the ambulance service and public health, about the work to date.

A report is being produced about these latest events. 

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