Health chiefs have agreed to stop sending stroke patients to Worthing Hospital once a new “acute stroke centre” in Chichester has been set up.
Stroke patients will then be taken to St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester, or to an existing specialist centre at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton.
NHS bosses said that the changes would improve survival rates and the quality of life for those who have suffered a stroke.
The NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board agreed proposals to expand stroke services at St Richard’s Hospital and to develop an acute stroke centre there at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday 29 November).
NHS Sussex said: “Stroke is a preventable and treatable disease. However, it is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and the largest single cause of severe disability. One in eight strokes are fatal within the first 30 days, with one in four strokes fatal within a year.
“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. While current services provide good levels of care, it was recognised further improvements could be made.
“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.
“The recommendation for the acute stroke centre at St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester, working as part of a network with the ‘comprehensive stroke centre’ at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, was considered to be the only clinically viable option.
“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 acute stroke centre will be led by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and working together with the comprehensive stroke centre at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, 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.
“To make the changes and realise the benefits, it will mean that Worthing Hospital will no longer receive people who are experiencing a stroke.
“This change will be carefully managed as part of the detailed implementation programme and, 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 the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, which already provides 24/7 specialist stroke services.”
Dinesh Sinha, Chief Medical Officer, 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.”
Consultant stroke physician at St Richard’s Hospital, Simone Ivatts, said: “We know we currently provide good stroke care at Worthing and St Richard’s Hospitals.
“But we 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.”
Consultant stroke physician at Worthing Hospital, 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.”