Hospital figures for stroke care revealed

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STROKE patients at Worthing Hospital are waiting longer for vital CT scans than at other hospitals across the country.

The Royal College of Physicians’ latest audit, covering April to June last year showed that the median time from patients arriving at the hospital to scan was 83 minutes on average across the country but 220 minutes at Worthing.

Scans are a vital measure for preventing speech loss and paralysis in stroke victims.

Of all the scans carried out at Worthing, 25.5 per cent took place within the hour, also falling beyond the national average of 41.5 per cent.

Worthing’s figures for patients scanned within 12 hours was 65.1 per cent, down on the 83.9 per cent national figure.

Patients scanned within 24 hours of arriving at the hospital was 75.5 per cent, compared to 93.1 per cent nationally.

Across all hospitals 44.1 per cent of people were assessed by an occupational therapist within 24 hours of arrival. At Worthing this figure was 8.5 per cent.

No patients were given a formal swallow assessment within 12 hours of arriving at Worthing and 13.2 per cent were assessed within 72 hours. Nationally, these figures were 21.3 per cent and 12.5 per cent respectively.

The percentage of patients that received an occupational therapy assessment within 72 hours was 4.7 per cent at Worthing with the national figure at 36.6 per cent.

Western Sussex Hospitals said that formal swallowing assessments were not always performed as they may no longer be required and Worthing’s older population means that it is inappropriate to conduct occupational therapy assessments within three days of admission.

The number of days to wait for an appointment for minor strokes was one day at Worthing, but all high risk patients were treated the same or next day and low risk patients were treated within a week.

Another strength was the percentage of patients being assessed by a nurse trained in stroke management. Worthing scored 90.6 per cent while the national average was 86.5 per cent.

Patients assessed by a stroke specialist consultant within 72 hours was 96.2 per cent compared to a figure of 90.9 per cent nationally.

The percentage of patients thrombolysed within one hour of arrival, if necessary, was 100 per cent, while the national figure was 51.5 per cent, and 64.1 per cent of stroke patients return to their own home, against the national average of 60.2 per cent.

Dr Rob Haigh, medical director at Western Sussex Hospitals, said: “Stroke care is extraordinarily complex, and many measures are used to assess the care provided. No single measure, taken in isolation, provides a complete picture.

“However, patients being treated for a stroke at Worthing have a better than average chance of survival, a better than average chance of returning to live in their own homes, and are able to leave hospital more quickly than at most other hospitals.

“There are undoubtedly specific ways in which our stroke care can be improved – for example, the timeliness of scans – and we work hard to do this. People suffering a stroke who are admitted to Worthing do better than average, however we aspire to improve care further and our patients rightly expect this.”

Judy Walker from the Stroke Association, said: “A stroke is a medical emergency. Time lost is brain lost. A brain scan is necessary to distinguish the type of stroke, which will determine the type of treatment.”