Consultation over changes to NHS services in St Helens

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Health chiefs in St Helens are looking for views on changes to stroke services in the town.

Professor Sarah O’Brien, Clinical Chief Executive at NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are committed to constantly reviewing the services we provide to ensure that, by working in partnership; patients receive the right care at the right time in the right place.

“The review of stroke services identified areas for improvement and making these changes will ensure the best possible outcome for patients.”

There have been a number of challenges to address, including the availability of specialist clinical stroke expertise and consultant cover at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust due to retirement of a stroke consultant and the difficulty in recruiting stroke specialists due to national shortages.

The first phase of the changes to stroke services means that any patients who display the signs and symptoms of a stroke, where the clinical assessment indicates they would benefit from Thrombolysis (clot busting medication) will be taken to Whiston Hospital for the acute clot busting treatment.

Thrombolysis needs to be given within four hours of stroke symptoms starting, so patients in this group will attend Whiston Hospital to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.

This process has been in place since June 2016, out of hours and at weekends. The recent change extends the service to 24/7, 365 days a year.

These arrangements could significantly improve outcomes for patients.

The second phase of the new pathway includes the development of a single hyper-acute unit which will provide highly specialist staff, access to the best available treatment and diagnosis at the earliest opportunity under, one roof.

This specialist unit at Whiston Hospital will take all patients with the symptoms of a stroke for their acute care. Once the acute treatment has been received patients that require rehabilitation will be transferred back to Warrington Hospital.

Stroke specialists from both Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will be working collaboratively to provide this service.

NHS Warrington, NHS Halton and NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Groups are working together to engage on these changes and are asking for the views of members of the public about the impact the changes may have for you as a patient, relative or carer.