Suffolk & North East Essex Shadow Integrated Care System

Stroke services bring patients closer to home

June 2019
Left to right: Claire Moore, superintendent radiographer, Dr Abul Azim, lead consultant geriatrician for stroke services, and Lisa Wood, stroke specialist research nurse PICTURE : Andy Abbott

The stroke department at the West Suffolk Hospital is helping the local community to receive treatment for a stroke closer to home, by launching a ‘repatriation’ service in partnership with Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.

If a patient has a stroke and is taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital via ambulance, but lives locally to the West Suffolk, they can now be transferred after their initial treatment to the Bury St Edmunds based hospital, to ensure they are closer to family and friends.

Dr Abul Azim, lead consultant for stroke services at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), said: “When appropriate, we are making it our mission to transfer our local patients to our hospital at the earliest possible stage in their patient journey.

“Prompt repatriation of patients to our stroke unit is a real plus, as patients can receive ongoing specialist management and rehabilitation nearer to their homes, making it easier for local relatives and carers to visit, which is crucial to a patient’s wellbeing and recovery, especially after a stroke.

“We inform a patient’s family and loved ones and keep them involved throughout the process, as it eases the stress on them too, knowing their loved one is no longer so far away and they can visit and support them.

“We are planning to transfer a patient within 24 – 48 hours of their admission to Addenbrooke’s, provided they are well enough to be transferred after their immediate treatment.”

This isn’t the only good news to come from the WSFT stroke department – the team recently relaunched a seven-day mini stroke, or TIA, service at the West Suffolk Hospital, and in stroke research were the second highest recruiter in the eastern region for stroke speciality studies.

Dr Azim commented: “For a relatively small hospital with a small department we do punch above our weight and are always trying to improve our services.

“Rapid assessment and treatment of TIA patients is essential to prevent strokes and reduce stroke-related disability and mortality; ensuring our local community has seven days a week access to give them the best chance possible will really support their outcomes. We also recognise the importance of supporting research to improve treatments for future generations and are delighted we are recruiting significant numbers of willing patients to be part of this crucial work.”