7:40pm Wednesday 11th September 2013
By Tarik Al Rasheed
THE Stroke Association says patients are getting a better service since stroke services were centralised at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
The change came into effect in July, when stroke beds in the north of the county were closed down in favour of an enhanced operation in Worcester.
And commissioners say that, although it is still early days, they believe the new service is working and will help to save lives and prevent disabilities.
This week Bernice Jones, deputy head of operations at the Stroke Association, said the charity was fully behind the changes that have taken place.
“I am fully supportive of any improvements, particularly at the acute end of things for people having a stroke and stroke survivors,” she said. “Centralising is something that we support and in Worcestershire we have been fully supportive of it and expressed that.
“People want 24/7 services, even if they have to travel a bit further. “Sometimes people don’t like to think about travelling further but if it means they get 24/7 services then that is obviously an improvement.”
The stroke unit at Worcestershire Royal has been expanded to provide an acute stroke ward, two additional specialised consultants, a dedicated nursing team and consolidated support from physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists.
Carl Ellson, chief clinical officer for South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said the moves allows for more complete care. “We know that people are more likely to survive, make a better recovery and spend less time in hospital if they are admitted directly to a high quality stroke unit and receive specialist care,” he said.
Work is still ongoing to further improve the county’s stroke rehabilitation services but Mrs Jones said what was already in place was of a very good level.
“Worcestershire really does have excellent community rehabilitation for stroke survivors,” she said.
But she also said that she would like to see more communication between patients and GPs and more ongoing emotional support for people recovering from strokes.
Peter Pinfield, chairman of new health watchdog Healthwatch Worcestershire, has been watching developments closely and is pleased with what he has seen.
“This is a really big change for Worcestershire in terms of what we were doing two years ago when we had some real difficulties across the county,” he said. “It is very early days but our soft intelligence says people welcome the move. “They would rather have the best quality service in one place.
“I suppose the test will be if we improve on the death rates and lose less lives to it.”
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