Lister’s stroke service achieves top grading in national audit

The Lister’s acute stroke service, which is based on the hospital’s Pirton and Barley wards, has achieved the top rating possible in the latest quarterly audit report produced by the Royal College of Physicians covering the period from April to July 2016. This achievement has come at the same time as the team has had to expand its service to care for additional patients coming from west Essex and Bedfordshire following changes made at local hospitals in these areas.

The Lister-based service is one of only three in the East of England to achieve an A grade, with the other two based in south Essex and west Suffolk. The achievement reflects a wide range of initiatives that the team has made, working closely with its colleagues in the community, to improve the quality of care received by patients who have suffered a stroke. The emphasis has been better team working and concentrating on the whole of the patient’s journey – from arrival in A&E through to discharge back home or in to a community service.

The Trust’s lead stroke consultant, Dr Aparna Pusalkar, said:

“The latest audit results that have just been published by the Royal College of Physicians are great news, making us the top rated acute stroke service operating in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. It reflects a huge amount of hard work, as we have built up our team of specialist doctors, nurses, therapists and other specialist staff.
“We are all delighted with this news – and we know from the data we have already for the next quarter that we are very likely to maintain our top grade.”

Spotting stroke symptoms early and taking swift action are key to helping someone
not just to survive, but also to making a good recovery. Contrary to popular belief,
stroke is a treatable condition that for many people can lead to them regaining much

Dr Pusalkar commented:

“From our own research, we have found that people suffering the symptoms of a
stroke often wait up to an hour to call an ambulance, which can reduce significantly
the treatment window available – which is three to four hours from a stroke
happening to clot-busting drugs being administered in hospital.

“So we’re urging people to get to know the signs of a stroke and to act fast – because
for those treated quickly, there is life after stroke!”

The signs and symptoms of a stroke can vary from person to person, but usually
begin suddenly. As different parts of the brain control different parts of the body,
symptoms will depend on the part of the brain affected and the extent of the damage.
The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-
Speech-Time.

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
  • Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

Reflecting on the Royal College of Physician’s latest set of audit results, Jennifer Kearney, the general manager for the Trust’s stroke service, said:

“Although there are national targets about the speed with which people get on to a specialist stroke ward, the real standard is the quality of care that received not just on arrival but throughout their whole stay. Working with our colleagues within both the Lister, but also those working in community-based services, a huge amount of effort has been put in to redesigning and improving everything that we do for our patients.

“The latest audit results showed that not only did we achieve the top A grade rating overall, but this achievement was reflected in the individual steps that every patient goes through – from the point when someone arrives in an emergency ambulance, through to the intensive therapy they receive once on our wards. And the team has achieved this great result at a time when specialist acute services in west Essex and Bedfordshire have been reduced, meaning that patients with suspected strokes now come here to the Lister.

“Our aim now, is to maintain this very high level of service and continue to make improvements that will benefit our patients. From the data that we have already, we’re very confident that we will retain our rating in the next quarterly audit when it is published by the Royal College of Physicians.”