NHS bosses have already agreed to stop providing such services at Haywards Heath’s Princess Royal Hospital, in favour of a better hyper-unit at Brighton, something that was discussed at West Sussex’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee on Thursday (September 29).
Doctors at Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said they believed a move towards a single site option, rather than having acute services at both St Richard’s Hospital and Worthing Hospital, was the ‘right direction of travel’, but not in the ‘immediate future’.
Marie Dodd, chief operating officer at the CCG, explained that having a major stroke unit at either Worthing or Chichester would have a significant impact on either Brighton or Portsmouth, whichever option they chose.
She said: “We would be concerned about the ability of Portsmouth and Brighton providers if we make a decision to cope with the increased capacity.”
Both hospitals had seen improvements in outcomes for patients recently offering some of the best stroke services in the country, while the CCG’s current focus was to drive up the performance of community stroke services which were ‘not currently adequate’.
It was explained earlier in the meeting that more than 600 patients a year was usually the threshold for a hyper-acute stroke unit, with Worthing serving around 450 a year, and St Richard’s 380.
Ms Dodd added: “We believe the right direction of travel is a move towards the one site option.”
David Whitehead, clinical director for the CCG, explained that he was ‘impressed’ by the stroke services at both St Richard’s and Worthing, but added: “We strive for excellence and we can do better and believe our patients will see even better services once services are more centralised.”
Although travel time was important, the real key was a bit of jargon ‘call to needle’, as it was the shortness of time to receive clot busting drugs that was ‘really important’.
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