No surprise over hospital stroke care

I WAS not really surprised to read your recent article in the Observer saying patients in 1066 country who have suffered a stroke are not getting the vital care and treatment they need to fully recover.

NHS Rother and Hastings was said to be the second worst performing Primary Care Trust in the country with less than 40 per cent of stroke patients spending more than 90 per cent of their time in a specialist stroke unit.

A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to your brain stops. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.

There are two kinds of stroke. The more common kind, called ischemic stroke, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain.

The other kind, called hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain.

Every second counts and immediate brain scans are required to diagnose whether a blood clot or a haemorrhage is involved to determine whether clot busting drugs should be administered.

A House of Commons Report in March 2010 “Progress in Improving Stroke Care” recommended that the Dept of Health should require all hospitals to provide timely access to scanning for all patients who might be eligible for the clot busting drug Thrombolysis.

I made enquiries of the Conquest Hospital if “timely access to scanning” was available and, after some delay, received the following reply:

“There is a thrombolysis protocol procedure in the Trust which requires us to scan a patient within the hour of request and this procedure is clearly understood by the CT team who react accordingly both in and out of hours. This is driven by the stroke team. At weekends there is an elective CT service run between 9am and 5pm both Saturday and Sunday so radiographers are on site working. After 5pm every evening the on call CT service is available and again radiographers are told when called if it is a patient being considered for thrombolysis.”

We must therefore live in hope that any radiographer called after 5pm Saturdays and Sundays will respond. Either that or pray we stay healthy at weekends!

J E Goldsworthy