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Community stroke service contract awarded

Community stroke service contract awarded
02 January 2019

Hospital stays for Eastern Cheshire people who have had a stroke are set to fall by up to six days after a new community service is launched in April.

We designed and funded the service to bring together a wide range of health and care workers to help people maximise their recovery from a stroke after hospital treatment.

The integrated community stroke rehabilitation service will be provided by University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust, to which we have awarded a three-year contract to a value of £1.5m.

The service will provide care closer to home. Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists from the trust will work with social care staff from Cheshire East Council to meet patients’ physical, psychological and social needs.

The service will see up to 300 patients a year, with the type and intensity of rehabilitation determined by the severity of the stroke and patients' individual needs. Average length of rehabilitation will be around six weeks, with input for up to five days a week and 45 minutes per session. However, rehabilitation for up to six months may be necessary for some patients.

During patients' hospital stay, there will be careful discharge planning with the service, then contact will be made between the service and patient within 48 hours of discharge from hospital, with the first assessment taking place inside seven days.

Dr Sarah Oliver, a local GP and the CCG's clinical lead for stroke care, said: "The new service will provide a comprehensive package of community-based care that will reduce patients' length of hospital stay. This is good news for patients who are, understandably, keen to avoid long stays in hospital, and this will improve their experience of care and chances of a good recovery following a stroke.

"It will also free up vital beds for other patients while cutting costs arising from prolonged hospital stays.

"The service has been shaped by numerous listening events we held with stroke survivors and their carers. These conversations helped us find out what worked well for them, what didn't and what they felt was important, not just immediately after the stroke but in the longer term too.

"Stroke survivors want to return home, get back to work and reconnect socially with their families and local communities wherever possible. Currently, the services that facilitate this are lacking and there are gaps in the system, with patients ready to return home sometimes having to wait a long time for community rehabilitation.

"The new service will join up the gaps in the current system, improving patients’ quality of life by providing better access to support services."

The number of patients needing community rehabilitation would be much higher but for our commissioning four years ago of a clot-busting therapy, called thrombolysis, carried out in the critical first four hours after stroke. Thrombolysis saves lives and reduces the long-term disability for stroke survivors.

National stroke audit data published by the Royal College of Physicians revealed that Eastern Cheshire residents who had a stroke were getting the best hospital care in England. Meanwhile, the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme has given the area’s hospital stroke care an “A” rating, meaning a world-class service.

Outstanding outcomes for patients receiving hospital stroke care are the result of our decision to commission services from regional centres of excellence. The service sees patients receiving hyper-acute or acute care at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport or Royal Stoke Hospital, part of the Stoke-on-Trent based UHNM.