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Doctors hail success of Wycombe's hyper-acute stroke unit
WYCOMBE Hospital’s specialist stroke unit has led to a big increase in patients being treated with crucial clot-busting drugs.
Doctors celebrated the first anniversary of the hyper-acute stroke unit [HASU] at Queen Alexandra Road last month – outlining the developments which have made the service one of the best in the region.
The main improvement has been a near ten-fold increase in the number of patients being treated with thrombolysis – which involves a potentially life-saving injection to disperse blood clots in the early stages of a stroke.
Twelve per cent of Bucks stroke patients now receive the drug, which is available at the unit 24-hours, while the time from hospital arrival to thrombolysis treatment is 42 minutes on average, compared to 88 minutes before the specialist unit was created.
Thrombolysis treatment has to be carried out within three hours of a stroke to be effective, but is only administered to sufferers who meet certain criteria.
All stroke patients from Bucks and East Berkshire spend the first three days of their care at the HASU, which is on the fifth floor of the tower block at Queen Alexandra Road.
Doctors say the high volume of patients going through the HASU, along with its concentration of specialist staff, mean the speed of diagnosis and treatment has improved dramatically.
They say half of patients now get a brain scan within an hour of arrival, compared to 10 per cent before.
Patients would previously go to their local stroke unit, with far fewer admissions and less expert staff, so the figures strengthen the case for centralising specialist NHS services.
Meanwhile, the unit’s TIA service, which caters for ‘mini-strokes’ or Transient Ischaemic Attacks, has already been described as ‘world-class’ in a Royal College peer review.
Dr Matthew Burn, stroke consultant, said: “Stroke services across the county have seen significant development over the past year which has improved experience and outcomes for our patients.”
He said the improvements were the result of good teamwork between a large group of dedicated nurses, doctors, and other staff.
Concerns have been raised about the long-term viability of the HASU (see related links) – though Bucks health chiefs have stressed their commitment to the service.
Strokes are caused by an inadequate blood flow to the brain. The brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly, so if the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain damage and possibly death so p rompt treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment, the less damage is likely to happen.
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