A ‘stroke’ of genius as Southend Hospital scoop £100,000 NHS Innovation Challenge Prize Award
25 February 2015
Southend Hospital is renowned for striving ahead with stroke care and prevention, a reputation it continues to build upon after being announced as just one of 13 enterprising projects to win an award and £100,000 in the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize Award.
The winners were announced on February 23 in Manchester at a
prestigious awards ceremony attended by the Secretary of State for
Health. Southend Hospital and the other 12 winners beat 52
shortlisted applicants who had to present their ideas in a Dragon's
Den-style pitch to a group of experts.
This is Southend Hospital's fifth national award for clinical
excellence or innovation since 2009, and provides another boost to
the stroke team's on-going preparations for becoming the first
hyper acute stroke unit (HASU) in Essex later this year.
If patients suffering a 'mini stroke' - or transient ischaemic
attack (TIA) - receive prompt medical help, they can often avoid a
more serious, disabling or even fatal stroke. In Southend, a
state-of-the-art referral process has meant that the number of
high-risk patients seen within 24 hours has soared from 17% to 96%,
an improvement so striking that the system is being implemented in
several neighbouring NHS Trusts.
The Southend team, frustrated at seeing patients who could have
been helped if their symptoms had been spotted earlier, joined
colleagues in primary care and IT services to establish the new
The previous paper-based referral system had been undermined by
manual errors and delays caused by missing forms. Its replacement
is a hyper-acute TIA online electronic form, using simple
pre-programmed drop-down boxes to avoid the need for complex paper
calculations in GP surgeries.
The completed form generates an instant 'risk score', allowing
GPs to send a referral directly to the smartphone inboxes of the
hospital-based stroke team. High-risk patients are then contacted
urgently - sometimes even before they have left their GP
consultation - to attend a specialist stroke clinic.
Lead Stroke Consultant, Dr Paul Guyler, says that the
multi-national award winning redesigned TIA clinic has most
importantly benefitted patients. "The TIA clinic is
patient-centred, and able to respond to the urgency of patient
need. We can see one patient - or ten - 365 days a year. No longer
are we restricted by what the hospital or service could provide.
The GPs using the system provide patients with immediate treatment
and information, backed up rapidly by the specialist clinic for a
specialist opinion and urgent investigations. Preventing a stroke
is much better than trying to reverse damage from a subsequent clot
in the brain."
Stroke consultant at Southend Hospital, Dr Devesh Sinha,
explained how this revolutionary system benefitted patients. He
said: "It is frustrating for any doctor to see patients
suffering because early stroke warnings are not triggering a
referral correctly. We hope HOT TIA will be in the majority of UK
trusts within the next five years. Patients are seen within an
average of 14.5 hours in 96% of TIA referrals, compared to 17%
previously. Timing is everything in stroke, especially as a TIA can
be an indicator of bigger, more serious strokes.
"The pilot HOT-TIA system served a population of 400,000 and
treated 400 suspected TIA patients per year, it is now available to
a population of 1.03 million, 950 suspected TIA patients per year
and its fantastic news that it is now planned to be rolled out
nationally. It will save more time, save more money but most
importantly will help save even more lives.
"It's a massive boost to the stroke team and IT team who
spearheaded this important project that it is now set to go
national and helps confirm Southend Hospital's pioneering stroke
expertise. It doesn't just set the standard, it makes it and as
such if the programme is rolled out nationally it will be known as
Southend's HOT TIA, putting the town and hospital on the stroke
If it is adopted across the NHS in England the scheme is set to
save an estimated potential £116 million a year, furthermore the
cost of a full national implementation could be offset by
preventing just seven strokes a year, as well as the additional
economic benefits from cutting physically debilitating effects of
Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England's Medical Director who presented
the awards, said: "I know only too well how important these prizes
are - both as an acknowledgement of the importance of innovation as
a driver for quality in the NHS, and as recognition that many new
ideas are happening every day on the front line of care.
"These are innovations that will transform the NHS. Approaches
that allow services to be tailored to personal needs and
expectations, that put more control in the hands of the individual,
are the ones that will help us move from a stretched service
treating illness to a sustainable one supporting wellness. The
prizes, now in their fifth year, are an established part of the NHS
innovation calendar and I look forward to following the progress of
this year's winners."
Images: l-r Dr Devesh Sinha and Dr Paul Guyler collect the
Notes to editor
There were 340 applicants in total.
Applicants were asked to apply in one of seven areas: two
diabetes challenges, infection control challenge, digital patient
and clinician engagement challenge, use of technology challenge
(the category that Dr Sinha and Dr Guyler won), rehabilitation
challenge and acorn challenges.
Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust's multi award
winning stroke unit is working to deliver an elite hyper acute
stroke super unit (HASU). HASUs bring experts and equipment
under one roof to provide world-class treatment 24 hours a day,
reducing death rates and long-term disability. In addition to
our existing dedicated and highly skilled staff, we are recruiting
more than 35 new staff enabling the team to meet the standards of
care currently only found in HASUs in London and Manchester, and
offer a full 24 hours a day seven days a week seamless service for
acute stroke patients in south Essex.