Stroke patients left at risk due to long waiting times

PUBLISHED: 09:02 16 January 2015

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STROKE patients in North Somerset are less 'likely to survive' than in other areas of the country because of hours spent waiting to be placed on a dedicated ward.

NHS guidelines set targets of admitting 90 per cent of stroke patients to a dedicated unit within four hours of their arrival in hospital, but the figure for North Somerset hits barely a third of that level, at just 35.1 per cent.

Only seven of 201 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across England recorded a lower rate of admission within four hours – although none managed to hit the 90 per cent target – with an average across the country of six in 10 patients moved to a dedicated ward within four hours.

Guidance from the Royal College of Physicians states stroke patients treated on a dedicated unit will be ‘more likely to survive, have fewer disabilities and be able to live independently’ and generally ‘do better than those treated on medical wards’.

North Somerset-based patients are treated at Weston General Hospital if referred during in-hours periods.

A CCG spokesman said the hospital aimed to triage patients within 15 minutes of arrival and if appropriate the stroke team will ‘arrive in minutes’, or ensure patients are seen by a doctor if their stroke occurred more than four hours beforehand.

They added that during out-of-hours periods, GP and ambulance referrals would be transferred to Bristol – a move which would significantly increase the time before they could be admitted to a stroke unit.

The spokesman said: “While we recognise there are issues with the stroke service, we are looking at ways to improve our current situation and are keen to work with clinicians to ensure the best possible quality service is delivered.

“The current pathway operates from Weston General Hospital. The data provided for this survey was provided by the acute trusts.

“North Somerset patients attend both Weston General Hospital and North Bristol Trust for stroke services so they will be included in the data for both trusts.”

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