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Professor Ken Stein showcases PenCLAHRC's stroke care projects

Posted on May 18th 2017

In support of National Stroke Awareness Month, PenCLAHRC Deputy Director Professor Ken Stein has shared his perspective on the collaboration’s work to improve stroke care in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, in an article for South West regional newspaper Western Morning News.

Ken writes: 

"There are more than 100,000 strokes a year in the UK. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the country and almost two-thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability – at a cost to the NHS and social care of £1.7 billion a year in England alone.

The figures show that stroke is a vast and growing challenge, not just to those who have one but also to their families and the health and social care systems charged with emergency and ongoing care.

The work that we are doing in our local region has been done in a unique partnership between academia and local health care providers, benefiting patients in the South West and across the country as other regions adopt our findings."

On the subject of PenCHORD's work with the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust to increase the number of people receiving clot-busting thrombolysis treatment, he continues: 

"Stroke is an important area of study for PenCLAHRC in the South West. A key project for us started five years ago and has involved computer simulation to help ‘tighten up’ what happens during the 'patient pathway'. That is the journey from the point when someone suffers a stroke, to being taken to hospital by ambulance and what happens to them when they get there. The aim being to speed up this journey so that patients can receive a ‘clot-busting’ drug at the earliest opportunity. The sooner a stroke patient receives thrombolysis, the less severe post-stroke disability is likely to be.

When we started this project with the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in 2011 our ambition was to extend it to two further hospitals, but in fact it has been adopted by Exeter, Plymouth, Torbay, North Devon, Truro and Yeovil hospitals and is under consideration by other trusts across the country.

Within each hospital, managers, clinicians and operational research modellers have created simulations of patient pathways leading to thrombolysis (clot-busting drugs). This has created a standardised approach into which individual trusts can factor any unique differences and explore what changes to their pathways might produce in terms of patients getting clot-busting drugs.

The great thing about this exercise is that it has brought together a spectrum of professionals involved in stroke care who are now sharing experiences between hospitals.

Not only has this resulted in more patients receiving thrombolysis sooner, making the South West better than the national average, we also expect savings in hospital and community services of approximately £225 per patient.

Working with the South West Academic Health Science Network we are producing a toolkit to help trusts across the country implement and manage changes to this aspect of stroke care."

Read the full article on the Devon Live website. Find out more about PenCLAHRC research on stroke care in the video below.