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Kent and Medway CCGs reveal plans to invest £40million in creating hyper stroke units

By Amy Nickalls

A £40 million investment will allow three hyper acute stroke units to be created across Kent and Medway.

The eight clinical commissioning groups in the county started reviewing stroke services in 2015 to make sure they were meeting national best practice standards.

Today, the bodies responsible for buying and planning healthcare have revealed plans for to open specialist units to give people the best care in the few hours and days immediately after their stroke.

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

With the new units, urgent urgent stroke services in other acute hospital would no longer be provided.

The changes will require £40million investment in building work, equipment at hospitals and to help recruiting more staff.

However, the CCGs say the faster service will reduce overall cost.

A shortlist has been drawn up of where the units will be.

The options are:

  1. Darent Valley Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
  2. Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
  3. Maidstone Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
  4. Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
  5. Darent Valley Hospital, Tunbridge Wells Hospital and William Harvey Hospital

A public consultation will be held to decide where the units are best place.

It will follow a further assessment on the shortlist and is expected to start in early February.

Each option gives 98% of people in Kent and Medway access to a unit within an hour by ambulance.

Dr David Hargroves, clinical lead for the stroke review.
Dr David Hargroves, clinical lead for the stroke review.

David Hargroves, clinical lead for the stroke review said: “This is incredibly good news because it means we will be able to ensure everyone treated in Kent and Medway gets the best care, no matter what time of day, day of the week or where they are when the stroke happens.

“Currently, although stroke staff do their very best, the way services are organised means that some people do not get the right treatment fast enough, particularly overnight and at weekends.

“Centralising urgent stroke care in three excellent hyper acute stroke units would change all that.

“Our dedicated staff would then be able to ensure the 3,000 people treated in Kent and Medway for a stroke every year get care which is right up there with the best in the country.”

The hyper units will have a multi-discplinary team of specialist stroke clinicans seven days a week.

Dr Diana Hamilton-Fairley, medical director at Medway NHS Foundation Trust said:” I am pleased that Medway features in three of the options, however I am absolutely confident that even if there is no hyper acute stroke unit at their nearest hospital, all stroke patients will benefit hugely from getting expert care round the clock.

Medway Maritime Hospital. Library image
Medway Maritime Hospital. Library image

“What is most important is getting to a specialist unit after a stroke for your assessment and treatment, even if that means taking longer to get there and the ambulance bypassing your nearest hospital.”

In London, hyper acute stroke units have reduced deaths by stroke by nearly 100 a year.

Hazel Smith, accountable officer of NHS South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group: “All the options involve the William Harvey Hospital for east Kent because, as things stand, the William Harvey Hospital offers the other services that are beneficial to have on the same site as a hyper acute stroke unit.

The William Harvey Hospital
The William Harvey Hospital

“There is a separate review of the possible options for the future location of emergency care and specialist services in east Kent.

“It would be wrong to wait for this work to conclude and slow down the essential decisions we need on stroke.

“If, through the east Kent emergency and specialist service review, William Harvey Hospital were no longer to be a long-term option for emergency and specialist services and these moved elsewhere – then we would anticipate any hyper acute stroke service would move with the co-dependent services.”

Darent Valley Hospital. Picture: Nick Johnson
Darent Valley Hospital. Picture: Nick Johnson

Dr Steve Fenlon, medical director of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, said: “Concentrating stroke services on fewer sites will enable the staff available to provide the best care for patients suffering from the effects of stroke.

“We are pleased to be considered a suitable site in three of the options and our staff have always and will continue to deliver care to the very best of their abilities for stroke patients.

“We support this endeavour to improve the care of all patients across Kent and Medway and we are sure all the providers will work together to deliver the best solution possible.”

Dr Peter Maskell, medical director at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
Dr Peter Maskell, medical director at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

Dr Peter Maskell, medical director at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, said:

“We welcome the opportunity to take part in this important forthcoming consultation to improve stroke care for patients across Kent and Medway, and encourage people locally to take part when it launches in the coming weeks.”

A meeting will be held on January 31 between 1pm and 4pm in the Council Chamber at County Hall in Maidstone.

The public can sit in on the meeting and might have an opportunity to ask some questions.

To reserve your place at the meeting please register to book on https://strokejcccg.eventbrite.co.uk or call the Joint Committee admin office on 01892 638331.

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