Chichester's hospital to get new acute stroke centre as services removed from Worthing
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An acute stroke centre will be developed in Chichester to ‘further improve outcomes for people who experience a stroke’, the NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board has announced.
Following a public consultation, the board agreed proposals to expand stroke services at St Richard’s Hospital at its meeting in public on Wednesday (November 29).
A spokesperson for the board said: “To make the changes, and realise the benefits, it will mean that Worthing Hospital will no longer receive people who are experiencing a stroke.
"Once the acute stroke centre is in place, people experiencing a stroke in the Worthing area will be taken by ambulance to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester or the comprehensive stroke centre at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton which already provides 24/7 specialist stroke services.”
The NHS said these ‘carefully managed’ proposals have received ‘widespread support’ from Healthwatch, Stroke Association, West Sussex HASC – plus all Sussex NHS Trusts and stroke consultant clinicians, including those who work in Worthing. The centre will be led by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.
Consultant stroke physician at Worthing Hospital, Dr Rajen Patel, said: "Developing an acute stroke centre in Chichester and expanding the capacity of our new comprehensive stroke centre in Brighton is the best way we can ensure all our patients have access to specialist stroke consultants, nurses, therapists and imaging support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“It will save lives, reduce life-changing disabilities and improve stroke care in the coming years for thousands of patients and their loved ones in West Sussex."
For the last five years, leading health professionals in Sussex have been ‘working to review’ existing stroke services and ‘identify where improvements can be made’.
"Whilst current services provide good levels of care, it was recognised further improvements could be made,” a NHS spokesperson said.
"From the outset, the local NHS set out a clear ambition that we want all our hospital stroke services to consistently meet national standards and to deliver excellent stroke care to people living locally, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Dr Simone Ivatts, consultant stroke physician at St Richard's Hospital, said staff in Chichester and Worthing ‘currently provide good stroke care’ but ‘are not meeting the latest national best practice standards’ and delivering access to new specialist treatments ‘quickly enough’ – especially at weekends and overnight.
Dr Ivatts added: “We have spent several years determining how we could improve this for the communities we serve in West Sussex. Developing an expanded and improved Acute Stroke Centre in Chichester, and further strengthening our regional comprehensive stroke centre service in Brighton, is going to offer the best service for everyone.
“It means everyone living locally will be within the critical 60 minutes of a specialist stroke centre open all day and night to provide fast, effective and modern treatments that will undoubtedly help to save more lives and improve life after stroke for many more people living in West Sussex."
The NHS described strokes as a ‘preventable and treatable disease’ despite being ‘one of the leading causes’ of death in the UK and the ‘largest single cause of severe disability’.
A spokesperson added: “One in eight strokes are fatal within the first 30 days, with one in four strokes fatal within a year.”
The recommendation for the acute stroke centre at St Richard’s Hospital – working as part of a network with the comprehensive stroke centre at the RSCH in Brighton – was ‘considered to be the only clinically viable option’, the NHS Board said.
The spokesperson continued: “It is supported by all partners across Sussex, including South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and GP clinical leads.
“The new centre will ensure that people living in Adur, Arun, Chichester, Worthing and south of Horsham have access to high quality hospital-based stroke care 24 hours a day.
“The centre will have stroke specialists around the clock and have consultants available seven days a week, with access to all the equipment they need for diagnosing and treating stroke patients.”
Dinesh Sinha, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Sussex, said: "We are delighted that plans to a develop an acute stroke centre in West Sussex have been approved. This new centre will have a significant benefit for people in and around the area, will further improve the care they receive when they are experiencing a stroke, and mean better outcomes for local people.
"This is the result of years of hard work led by the leading stroke professionals in the area, and I want to thank them and everyone involved for their determination and commitment to develop proposals that are going to improve the lives of people across West Sussex."
Dr Ivatts added: “It means everyone living locally will be within the critical 60 minutes of a specialist stroke centre open all day and night to provide fast, effective and modern treatments that will undoubtedly help to save more lives and improve life after stroke for many more people living in West Sussex."
The film of the NHS Sussex Board meeting is available here.
Read the NHS Sussex Board papers and find out more about the improvements, with all of the background reports and documents on the NHS Sussex website.