NHS Somerset approves improvements to stroke services in Somerset

The plans, developed by clinicians, people working in stroke services, key stakeholders and people with lived experience of stroke, will mean changes to:

  • Hyper acute stroke services, with the establishment of a single Hyper Acute Stroke Unit at Musgrove Park in Taunton, providing 24/7 emergency treatment. Research shows that more people survive stroke and are able to live independently when specialised stroke services are located in one place.
  • Ongoing hospital treatment, with acute stroke units at both Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton and Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil. Maintaining two acute stroke units would mean that following their emergency stroke treatment, patients could move to Yeovil District Hospital if this was closer to where they live.
  • Patients would be taken to their nearest hyper acute stroke unit. This could be out of Somerset if it was closer such as Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester.

The Board have requested that the finance committee review the financial case in terms of maximising value for money for the investment and seeking assurance around the affordability of the capital case. The finance committee paper will come back to the next board meeting.

Changes will not happen overnight, but will be phased over the coming 18 months.

Dr Bernie Marden, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Somerset, said:

“The proposals agreed today are a significant step forward for emergency stroke care in Somerset.

“The changes will mean better emergency treatment, resulting in fewer deaths and better recovery for stroke patients in Somerset. A considerable amount of work has gone into this programme, including hugely valuable input from clinicians, staff, stroke survivors and their loved ones. I would like to thank everyone involved for their contributions.

“I would also like to thank the people who took the time to contribute to the public consultation. The many and varied responses and feedback received and the richness of conversation about a complex and often emotive subject, was welcomed. The challenges offered resulted in retesting and revaluation of our proposals, meaning we could ensure the decision we made was in the best interests of stroke patients.”

Dr Rob Whiting, Consultant Stroke Physician and Clinical Director for Neuroscience and Stroke, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The review of urgent stroke services in Somerset has always been about improving the quality of care and outcomes for patients. All patients, no matter where they live in Somerset, will benefit from being admitted to a unit that is able to provide excellent stroke care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“These changes will see a significant investment in local stroke services. We will see improvements to patients’ diagnostic and treatment times, with quicker CT scans and thrombolysis, meaning patients will recover better and have an improved experience.”

“It has been a privilege to have met, listened too, and worked alongside those people with lived experience and carers who have been integral to us developing the new model of care for stroke patients in Somerset.”

Rick Hein, a stroke survivor and lived experience representative on the stroke steering group said:

“I am pleased to have been involved in shaping and designing these services alongside other people with experience of stroke. It’s so important for the development of new services to take on board both the personal experiences of local people alongside the expertise of clinicians.

“I know from my own experience of stroke and from hearing from other stroke survivors and their loved ones, that far too many people have had varying experiences of stroke services. The changes agreed today will help to make sure stroke patients in Somerset can access the specialist emergency stroke they need when they need it.”

We will continue to work closely with the doctors, nurses, therapists, other frontline staff and stroke survivors who have been so central to the design of these plans, as we seek to implement these changes.

We will continue to update staff, stakeholders and local people on our progress.

Read more about the stroke services review on our stroke pages.