Sunderland among worst in the country for stroke services

Sunderland Royal Hospital
Sunderland Royal Hospital
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Sunderland and Durham are affected by a ‘postcode lottery’ of stroke care services, claims a new report.

Statistics released by the Stroke Association show regional variations in the treatment and care people receive in hospital, with the North East lagging behind.

We know that the quality of care for stroke patients in South Tyneside and Sunderland needs to be improved and this has been a driver for change in both hospitals

Ken Bremner

The resesarch looked at five catergories and South Tyneside District Hospital was bottom in three, and in the bottom four in one, while the University Hospitals of North Tees and Hartlepool were bottom in one category and in the bottom ten in another.

In one of the categories, the percentage of eligible patients who received thrombolysis within four hours, Sunderland Royal Hospital was sixth from the bottom in the country with 63.9% and the University Hospital of North Durham was seventh from bottom with 64.9%.

The Stroke Association released the map of the best and worst to highlight the ‘postcode lottery’ of patient care.

There were five indicators studied, from between March 2015 and April 2016.

Now, the association is calling on the calling on the Government to give all hospitals the support they need to tackle these regional variations.

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.

“It is unacceptable that your postcode determines whether or not you face treatment delays if you have a stroke.”

Ken Bremner, Chief Executive of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that the quality of care for stroke patients in South Tyneside and Sunderland needs to be improved and this has been a driver for change in both hospitals.

“We have already started to make arrangements for a temporary change to the way acute stroke services are delivered as it was recognised the service at South Tyneside District Hospital was vulnerable because of challenges in recruiting a specialist stroke consultant.

“Acute stroke care for South Tyneside residents is to be temporarily centralised at Sunderland Royal Hospital and by doing this we will be better placed to achieve key national standards and therefore ensure both organisations are providing the best possible care in order to maximise recovery following a stroke.

“By making this temporary change our clinical teams are able to work together to improve the national standings for stroke care for all patients and they are confident the rating will move to at least a B, with the potential to achieve a grade A.

“The National Stroke Quality Team, as well as our CCG partners, has supported our planned temporary solution as a method to begin to improve these important quality ratings.”

Public consultation on a more permanent solution will be undertaken in early 2017.