Feature: Expert care of special unit driving down toll of stroke deaths

Dr Sreeman Andole, stroke unit's clinical director

Dr Sreeman Andole, stroke unit's clinical director - Credit: Archant

Strokes are the fourth single cause of death of people in the country with coronary heart disease the biggest killer. But sites like Queen’s Hospital are driving up the standards of care, as Beth Wyatt reports

Dr Sreeman Andole, stroke unit's clinical director

Dr Sreeman Andole, stroke unit's clinical director - Credit: Archant

Even if patients receive medical attention quickly, the prognosis can still be bleak.

One in four strokes are fatal within a year and the condition is the fourth single largest cause of death in the country.

But thanks to the dedicated efforts of staff, one trust has decreased its stroke mortality rates percentage by almost half.

The hyper acute stroke unit at Queen’s Hospital, run by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), has achieved a drop since the year 2011/12.

That year, 13.2 per cent of stroke patients died within 30 days of admission, but this fell to 7.65pc in 2013 and 7pc in 2014.

Dr Sree Andole, 43, the lead clinician, said: “We have been so focused on trying to achieve this.

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“We are continuously striving to find areas we can improve significantly and this will encourage us to do more.”

In 2010, eight hyper acute units were created in London.

Stroke sufferers are now taken to Queen’s, in Rom Valley Way, Romford, or one of the other hospitals.

British Medical Journal research published last year found the units are saving the lives of 96 Londoners every year.

Since joining BHRUT in 2011 as a consultant, Dr Andole has been committed to driving up standards.

He said: “The number of patients having thrombolysis, clot-busting treatment, has gone up, the waiting times for this have fallen and we have improved our research.

“This is down to the whole team.”

For the first 72 hours, stroke patients are treated at the unit, before moving on to the 30-bed acute unit.

They may go on to the rehabilitation services at King George Hospital, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

A key task is maintaining standards in the face of rising numbers.

Dr Andole said: “In 2010/11, we had 400 to 600 patients in the hyper acute unit, but in 2013/14 this was almost 1,400 and 1,000 outpatients.

“Part of our plan this year is to extend our unit from 12 beds to 15.

“The challenge is sustaining our improvement with more demand.”

On the future of services, the doctor believes rehabilitation in the home will play more of a part.

“Figures have shown the results of having therapy at home would be equal, if not better, to having therapy at hospital.

“We will all need to work together and join forces.”