●» Jacki Wilkes, NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) associate director of commissioning
IT’S currently Make May Purple – the Stroke Association’s annual awareness campaign – a great time to highlight the fantastic work that’s being done to improve stroke care in Eastern Cheshire.
Strokes can be caused by two things: a blood clot or a bleed on the brain.
In January 2014 we implemented a new service to give patients specialist care in the first four hours after a stroke, when the prospects of a full recovery are greatly improved by timely, expert treatment.
One element of this is thrombolysis – a clotbusting process that can vastly improve outcomes for those who suffer strokes caused by a clot.
Clots cut off blood supply to the brain, causing death of tissue. But if a clot can be ‘busted’ within four hours, blood flow can be recovered and the symptoms of a stroke reversed. Now thrombolysis is nothing new, in fact we’ve been using it to treat heart attacks here in Eastern Cheshire for years. But thrombolysis for stroke patients is new to us and we’re able to offer it now because we’ve changed the way we approach healthcare commissioning.
In the past we could only offer thrombolysis to 75 per cent of eligible patients because we only had one stroke consultant in Eastern Cheshire. Now, we are pleased to say that 100 per cent of eligible patients are receiving thrombolysis 24/7.
This is because we ensure our patients are taken straight to our three most local centres of excellence: Stockport, Royal Stoke and Salford Royal Hospitals.
Of course not everyone is eligible for thrombolysis, for example those who are very old and those whose time of stroke is unknown. However, it’s one of a range of interventions available as part of the service.
Almost 75 per cent of our patients are admitted to a stroke unit within four hours, compared to a national average of 60.5 per cent.
So now we’ve got the hyper-acute stroke service sorted, we’re working with neighbouring CCGs to improve how we support stroke survivors to make the fullest possible recovery.