Stroke care improvements will save lives

Stroke services are set to improve for more than 430,000 people living in the east of Berkshire.

This means that, from January 1, local people suspected of having a stroke will be taken straight to the nearest hyper acute stroke unit by ambulance to receive the best possible care.

The improvements are the culmination of two years’ planning by the east Berkshire clinical commissioning groups, involving local clinicians, patients, the public and the Stroke Association from the start.

These plans aim to improve patients’ health after a stroke, with fast access to clot-busting treatment (thrombolysis) and 24-hour specialist stroke care, which have been proven to give patients a better chance of recovery when combined with therapy support as needed.

Hyper acute stroke units that are local for residents in the east of Berkshire are:

  • Frimley Park Hospital, Camberley
  • Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading
  • St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey
  • Wycombe General Hospital, High Wycombe
  • Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow

Most patients will go home after hospital treatment, with additional support if they need it. People who need rehabilitation in hospital will be transferred to an inpatient unit as close as possible to where they live.

For patients in the east of Berkshire, the plans mean:

  • from January 1, most stroke patients who would previously have gone to the acute stroke unit at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough will go to the hyper acute stroke unit at Wycombe General Hospital
  • Wexham Park Hospital will no longer have an acute stroke unit, but will have a new stroke rehabilitation unit
  • the reconfiguration will mainly affect Maidenhead, Slough and Windsor patients who would previously have gone to Wexham Park Hospital
  • Bracknell and Ascot patients will be largely unaffected, as almost seven out of ten already go to the hyper acute stroke units at Frimley Park Hospital or the Royal Berkshire Hospital

Dr Jackie McGlynn, one of the east Berkshire clinical commissioning groups’ stroke leads, said: “We believe these new arrangements will save lives in the years ahead. They will improve people’s quality of life after a stroke through maximising their chances of remaining independent at home.

“While we realise some families and carers may need to travel slightly further to visit their loved ones in a specialist stroke unit, it is important to us that local people receive the best possible care.”
Notes to editors

  • The three east Berkshire CCGs are Bracknell & Ascot CCG, Slough CCG, and Windsor & Maidenhead CCG
  • The plans are in line with recognised national best practice
  • 24/7 screening, consultant and other specialist support will be available on HASU sites
  • Rehabilitation services will include high-quality physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, psychological support and occupational therapy
  • Benefits will include:more people will survive a stroke
    • patients will have a speedier recovery
    • the severity of any disabilities will be reduced
    • more patients will be able to live independently following their stroke
    • they are more likely to return to work
    • services will be safe, sustainable and affordable for the future

Recognising the signs of a stroke

The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person but usually begin suddenly. As different parts of your brain control different parts of your body, your symptoms will depend on the part of your brain affected and the extent of the damage.

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST: Face, Arms, Speech, Time:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake
  • Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms