Go-ahead for a specialist stroke unit to open at Darent Valley Hospital next year
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 February 2019
Plans to open a specialist stroke unit in Dartford have been agreed by health officials.
The joint committee of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) last week unanimously approved the proposal to locate hyper acute stroke units (HASUs) at hospitals in Ashford, Dartford and Maidstone.
Members said the changes would reduce the number of deaths and long-term issues caused by strokes, as well as ensuring a better experience for patients and staff.
Stroke review senior officer Rachel Jones said: “There will be a higher quality, more consistent care in hospitals for urgent stroke services with the development of hyper acute and acute units.
“There will also be greater access to staff and equipment, as well as quicker treatment times.
“We recognise some patients will have to travel further for the urgent aspects of their stroke care, with a maximum journey time of 63 minutes.
“However, consolidating hospital stroke services will save lives and reduce disability.”
The HASU at the Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford will have 34 beds and is set to be open in 2020. Meanwhile, the 52 beds at Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital will be ready from spring 2021.
Stroke care will not be provided at the Medway Maritime Hospital, Tunbridge Wells Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, and the Kent and Canterbury Hospital once the HASUs are formed.
Senior stroke consultant David Hargroves added: “We already currently have an excellent stroke unit in Margate and a fine team of multi-disciplinary staff working as hard as they possibly can.
“The reality though is despite that expertise the process markers in Margate at the moment are some of the worst in the country.
“The outcomes for patients are not as good as they could be, and they will be in the future model.”
However, the decision was made behind closed doors following a number of interventions from campaigners in the audience.
Members of the public demanded that questions submitted before the meeting were answered, while comments made by Rachel Jones were audibly questioned.
Objections mainly revolve around the favoured option making the 24/7 units – which would treat patients in the first 72 hours after a stroke – difficult to access for high-risk communities in Thanet and Medway.