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Public consultation on shake-up of stroke care in County Durham

Stroke rehabilitation services in Bishop Auckland could be shut down and moved to Durham City under plans being considered by NHS chiefs.

Under the proposals, which bosses are preparing to put out to public consultation, would see immediate stroke care and subsequent in-patient rehab brought under one roof at University Hospital of North Durham (UHND).

But while it is hoped the shake-up could reduce the time patients spend in hospital, it could also see up to eight beds cut from County Durham’s stroke care provision.

“Currently, the split we have doesn’t reflect best practice and doesn’t reflect staffing,” said Sarah Burns, director of commissioning and strategy for the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES) and North Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

“Currently three quarters of stroke patients are either discharged home or to intermediate care and one quarter are transferred to Bishop Auckland for rehabilitation.

“We’ve been working with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust to develop an alternative model in Durham and we know the areas for greatest improvement relate to rehab, so we’ve met with staff and clinical leads to develop those options.”

According to a report prepared  Tuesday, August 28 meeting of the DDES and North Durham CCGs governing bodies, currently there are 24 beds in UHND’s ‘hyperacute stroke unit’ and 26 rehab beds at Bishop Auckland Hospital.

While national best practice guidelines claim patients should spend no more than seven days on a ward if possible, the length of stay at Bishop Auckland is 20 days, almost triple.

A report for care chiefs says retaining services at UHND is important for the stroke ‘care pathway’ in County Durham as it located in a ground floor ward with easy access to CT scans and the occupational therapy and physiotherapy departments, as well as a gym.

It is claimed the changes will speed recovery by reducing stress for patients who would otherwise be transferred between different sites.

NHS bosses also say it will improve the ‘continuity of care’ on offer, with the same staff involved from admission and through rehabilitation phases.

According to national figures, there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK every year.

The plans are due to be debated by members of Durham County Council next week (Friday, September 6).

 

Article originally appeared on  Chronicle Live

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