Sunderland Echo columnist’s gift of thanks to hospital

Mick Thurlbeck donating a cheque to nurses and staff on the Stroke ward at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Mick Thurlbeck donating a cheque to nurses and staff on the Stroke ward at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
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A STROKE survivor and Echo columnist has donated funds to a new pioneering unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Mick Thurlbeck, who writes the weekly Dr T column for the paper, suffered two minor strokes in August last year.

During his recovery, he spent time in the old stroke unit at the hospital. Now, he has returned to the newly-revamped ward to say thank-you.

The unit offers a hyperacute stroke service as well as early access to specialist consultations.

Mick, from Grangetown, said: “Last month I visited the new unit accompanied by John Anderson, chairman of the Hospital Trust. A little over a year after receiving treatment in the former ward, I wanted to pass on my thanks personally to the staff who helped my recovery.”

Mick’s stroke came as a surprise to the normally-active 60-year-old, who has completed a trip to Kilimanjaro.

Mick said: “I was very well looked after in the old stroke ward. They had the opening of the new one and when I went along, I saw that they were still in need of funds. I had some left over from the trip I did to Kilimanjaro and my family chipped in to make it up to £600.”

Mick said that it was due to the excellent staff in the hospital that he is now almost fully recovered.

Mick said: “There was a time I was worried I would never return to normality, but with the help of the staff I am glad to say I’m almost back to normal. Diane Gulliver, specialist stroke nurse has particularly been instrumental as supporting me as an outpatient.”

A spokesperson from the hospital said: “We are delighted that the 24/7 hyperacute stroke service is now fully operational across NHS South of Tyne and Wear.

“The new consultant rota will provide early access to a specialist opinion for all stroke patients, as well as treatment with clot-busting drugs in the minority of patients for whom it is indicated.

“There have been a number of recent and exciting developments in stroke services at City Hospitals Sunderland, including the opening of the new purpose-built Acute Stroke Unit and the establishment of the award-winning Community Stroke Rehabilitation team.

“These demonstrate the trust’s commitment to the provision of seamless high-quality care for all patients with suspected stroke, throughout all parts of the patient journey.”

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Recognising a stroke FAST

FACIAL weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms?

SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

TIME to call 999.