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Southend University Hospital tops the league for stroke treatment

21 August 2012

Health Care

Southend University Hospital has been named the best in the region for treating patients in danger of having a potentially fatal stroke. And only two other hospitals in the entire country can better the service they provide.

The figures are released today (August 21) in the UK Carotid Interventions Audit, produced by the Royal College of Physicians in conjunction with the Vascular Society. It shows Southend to be way ahead of other units in the entire midlands and east ofEnglandfor carrying out operations to remove dangerous debris from the walls of the carotid artery supplying blood to the brain.

Hospitals are required to carry out the surgery with 14 days of the patient first experiencing symptoms. Southend has achieved a 88% success rate, compared with just 48% nationally. This puts the hospital in pole position to achieve the Department of Health's new much tougher target which calls for patients having their vital treatment within just 48 hours by 2017.

Consultant vascular surgeon Mr James Brown said: "That is going to be hard but we are continually striving to do better and we will make it happen."

Southend's success in getting patients treated quickly is due to a number of factors:

  • A direct access transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or 'mini stroke' clinic where patients who have experienced symptoms are reviewed by a stroke specialist. This runs seven days a week and patients referred by GP, A&E or other sources are seen very rapidly.
  • Round-the-clock availability of a stroke consultant to see at-risk patients and arrange for the necessary scans to be carried out
  • Close working with radiologists who carry out the scans
  • A team of highly-skilled vascular surgeons to perform the surgery
  • Cooperation from anaesthetist colleagues to ensure emergency operations can go ahead without delay

Mr Brown said: "It depends on the flexibility of the whole team - we have an excellent working relationship and it is absolutely a joint success.

"We have taken out many of the traditional steps in the referral pathway so that patients can be assessed and treated very quickly. It is the only way to achieve the 48-hour target.

"Not all strokes are caused by blocked arteries. But when they are, urgent surgery is vital to prevent a further stroke with devastating - or even fatal - consequences."