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Stroke victims get treatment 24/7 at N&N

PUBLISHED: 09:29 27 May 2009 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 July 2010

Stroke victims will be offered rapid treatment 24 hours a day at Norfolk's biggest hospital for the first time from Monday.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been offering thrombolysis, which is a clot-busting drug treatment that save lives and minimises disability, since January.

Stroke victims will be offered rapid treatment 24 hours a day at Norfolk's biggest hospital for the first time from Monday.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been offering thrombolysis, which is a clot-busting drug treatment that save lives and minimises disability, since January. But up until now it has only been available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. From Monday it will be offered round the clock, though this is two months later than planned.

And patients in west Norfolk, who had feared they would be left with a second-class service out of working hours, are being told they should get a 24-7 service from September.

For clot-busting to be effective, it must be given within three hours of a stroke. A scan is carried out to see if the stroke is caused by a clot or a bleed on the brain as thrombolysis will make a bleed worse.

At the N&N four extra senior nurses have been recruited to run the service and co-ordinate the care in the first crucial hours.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, the new service is running in working hours, but doing it 24-7 has been more difficult to arrange.

Kneale Metcalf, stroke consultant at the N&N and a thrombolysis co-ordinator for the region, said because of distances involved, thrombolysis is needed at the QEH too. Out of hours this will rely on “telemedicine”, the medical equivalent of video-conferencing, which is being tested in the region.

Dr Metcalf said: “There will be a regional rota of stroke consultants on call who can advise whether thrombolysis is appropriate or not. There will be a computer on wheels which will allow them to see the patient from home, interact with the patient and also see the brain scans.

“With the QEH I think it is looking good with regard to their service going 24-hour. The technology is not the issue, it is the competencies of the people involved. This is why we delayed for two months at the N&N, to do training, getting people up to the competency on what is a complex service.”

At yesterday's NHS Norfolk board meeting, chairman Sheila Childerhouse said: “Norfolk has been cutting-edge in terms of the stroke work it has done. This is going to make a difference to patients and their families, and that is the most important thing of all.”

A study published last month found that just 17pc of patients at the N&N are given a brain scan within 24 hours of a stroke, compared with 59pc across the country, though the data was collected before the new service started.

There will be a dedicated stroke rehabilitation ward at Norwich Community Hospital from November. There are also plans for intensive support at home but NHS Norfolk is still trying to agree a cost for this new team.

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston is also planning a 24-7 service this summer.

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