Campaign reduces stroke incidence

DEDICATED care and a high-profile public information campaign have led to fewer people suffering from full-blown strokes, according to statistics released by a Yorkshire hospital trust.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which provides services for people in Doncaster and north Nottinghamshire, launched a stroke strategy in early 2009 in to try to improve treatment.

As part of the drive, medics opened a specialist stroke unit at Doncaster Royal Infirmary which offers immediate, specialist care to people who are suspected of suffering a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), also known as a "mini-stroke".

Statistics show that in the first quarter of the 2009/2010 financial year, fewer than 40 per cent of patients were seen on a dedicated stroke unit, but by the second quarter of 2010/11 that figure had doubled.

The figures also reveal that over the same period of time, the percentage of people who had suffered TIAs who were treated within 24 hours jumped from under 20 per cent to 80 per cent.

A trust spokesman said: "A TIA is a temporary interruption in the blood supply to part of the brain and is a warning sign that a major stroke is highly likely.

"If treated it can prevent a full-blown stroke – so stroke prevention is part of the strategy for improving outcomes for patients."

After launching its strategy of catching patients who are suffering from a TIA early, the trust said it had seen a dramatic reduction in patients suffering full-blown strokes with 175 admissions in early 2009 compared with about 100 in mid-2010.

The spokesman said the specialist clinic offered "same day assessment" for vascular surgery and added: "This can open up an artery to the brain and remove material which is causing a blockage.

"Having a stroke unit which offers the vascular surgery service means that assessment for surgery is prompt and the operation can be done within a day or two of diagnosis."