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Concerns at stroke patients being taken to wrong hospital
DESPITE figures that show a new centralised stroke unit is improving treatment, councillors have voiced concerns that some patients are still not being taken to the right hospital.
Since the Darlington Memorial acute stroke unit closed in December last year, suspected stroke patients in County Durham and Darlington are meant to be taken to a stroke unit at the University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham City.
Since the unit opened in January, patients have been treated more quickly.
Eighty-nine per cent of the 530 confirmed stroke patients treated between January and July this year were admitted directly to the North Durham unit.
However, councillors from Darlington Borough Council are concerned that some suspected stroke patients are still being taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital.
Councillor Tony Richmond, a member of the council’s health and partnership scrutiny committee, which met yesterday, said: “We have heard horror stories of patients being dumped in Darlington, but why is that?
“The logic behind all of this is that we can only afford to have a centre of excellence in one place. We are surprised that patients are still being taken elsewhere.”
The committee members were told that County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust was ranked among the best-performing quarter of stroke units nationally.
However, they expressed frustration that no figures were available to show ambulance journeys and times where a stroke is suspected.
Committee chairwoman Councillor Wendy Newell said: “It is disappointing there is not any information available regarding ambulance journeys. I intend to raise this with the ambulance service so we can talk about our concerns.”
Coun Newell said she was aware of “half a dozen” cases where people have complained about being taken to Darlington.
Dr Bernard Esisi, the stroke consultant in charge of the acute stroke treatment service, told councillors that the unit had recruited additional nurses and was looking to recruit an additional consultant.
He said: “We have seen a reduction in the length of stay, which tells you that we have got more people living after a stroke and with less disability.”
Councillors were told that a more detailed analysis of stroke-related ambulance journeys should be available later this year.