The medical team at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey has extended its stroke service to offer the best possible treatment to patients whatever time of day or night they arrive in the emergency department.

Thrombolysis treatment uses drugs to dissolves clots which restrict blood flow to the brain and cause an ischaemic stroke or ‘brain attack’. Claire Barratt, Specialist Stroke Nurse explains: “This is a specialist treatment which offers a better chance of recovery after stroke but patients need to meet strict criteria to receive the drug and most importantly, it must be given within three hours of the onset of their symptoms.”

“The whole process of giving thrombolysis treatment is quite complex and several tests, including a CT scan, need to be completed very quickly before the drug can be prescribed. This has meant that we have previously only been able to offer the treatment during the day and the whole stroke team has worked hard to put the necessary processes in place to offer a 24-hour service.”

From April 2009 until January 2010 Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals admitted 310 stroke patients and those able to benefit from the thrombolysis service are treated as a priority. This starts from the moment the emergency department receive an urgent ‘stroke call’ from the ambulance service and the patient is transported by ‘blue light’ to A&E. Once there, a specialist team is waiting to move the patient to the ‘priority triage bed’ and carry out a full neurological assessment. The clock goes on and everybody has to work together to treat the patient as quickly as possible and stop the stroke ‘spreading like fire’ in the brain.

Claire said: “Currently stroke is the third leading cause of death and the single largest cause of adult disability in England, so the current FAST campaign to help people recognize the symptoms of stroke and act quickly is great. Thrombolysis treatment isn’t suitable for everyone, but for those who can have it the outcome is good and it’s a huge step forward to be able to offer it around the clock.”

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