Hyper acute stroke units at William Harvey Hospital, Darent Valley Hospital and Maidstone Hospital were given the go-ahead yesterday (Thursday 14 February 2019) by a unanimous decision of the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups for the Kent and Medway Review of Urgent Stroke Services.

Once the new units are up and running, everyone having a stroke in Kent and Medway will be taken to their nearest hyper acute stroke unit, which will offer specialist stroke care round the clock every day of the year.

The decision comes after a five-year review of urgent stroke services, led by local stroke specialists. They looked at a wealth of data and evidence which shows that centralising stroke services in three hyper acute units is the right thing for patients. It will reduce disability and is expected to save an extra life every fortnight.

At the moment despite the hard work of dedicated NHS staff, stroke services in Kent and Medway are some of the poorest in the country. This is not acceptable and that is why the stroke review has worked so hard over the last five years to bring about change.

Rachel Jones, Director for the Kent and Medway Stroke Review, said: “We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the stroke review. This has been a detailed and robust process, led by stroke specialists dedicated to improving care for patients.

“We undertook an extensive public consultation, involving thousands of people who told us they understand why stroke services need to change, but we recognise they have concerns about the impact of those changes.

“We have listened carefully to those concerns and considered them in detail. While our proposals have not changed, we are working to address issues such as travel and transport and putting plans in place to make sure that rehabilitation and support services are closer to home and better planned.”

With its decision today, the committee backed the recommended option for the location of hyper acute stroke units, which was arrived at after a detailed and rigorous evaluation of all the possible options.
The work now moves into the implementation phase. It is anticipated that the new stroke service will begin at Maidstone and Darent Valley hospitals in about a year’s time, and at William Harvey Hospital in spring of 2021.

Background notes:

  • The meeting of the Joint Committee began in public, but was adjourned for about an hour, after repeated interruptions from members of the public who had applied to observe the proceedings. It was concluded in private, observed by the media, and with audio available to the public via a dial-in teleconference service.
  • At the moment there are no hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway, and urgent stroke care is provided at six hospitals. The stroke review began because currently hospitals are not able to consistently deliver the standard and quality of stroke care that people should be able to expect.
  • Each of the hyper acute sites will also have an acute stroke unit to give patients expert care after the first 72 hours until they are ready to leave hospital, and a clinic for assessing and treating transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs or mini strokes).
  • Urgent stroke services will not be provided in other hospitals in Kent and Medway.
  • A key theme from the public consultation was that good quality, well-resourced rehabilitation services, in or close to home, are of vital importance to local people.
  • The NHS has increased the pace of work to improve and standardise rehabilitation services across Kent and Medway. Rehabilitation will be provided as locally as possible, often in patients’ own homes.
  • Further information is on the stroke review is available here.