Stroke services in Sussex

Local stroke services have improved over the last two years but there is much more to do to bring the whole pathway to the standard our patients deserve. 

That's why we are working with the hospitals that provide stroke services and our CCG partners in Sussex to work together to further improve local care.

This animation describes the high quality care we want for patients in Coastal West Sussex.

If you are unable to hear the video's audio, a script is available at the bottom of this page.

Listening to you

As part of our work to review local stroke services, we have been working with our providers to understand what stroke patients, carers and the public want to see from their services – from prevention, admission, assessment and treatment through to recovery and rehabilitation.

People could share their views via on online or paper survey, by attending a discussion at local groups including stroke clubs and we also carried out some 1:1 interviews.

During the summer we heard from more than 160 people about their experiences and priorities for stroke services.  

Thank you to all that took part.

The feedback was shared with the group of clinicians looking at how services could be shaped going forward, to make sure that patient views are at the centre of those discussions.

Read a summary of the feedback received from people who experienced a stroke and their carers (November 2015)

What happens now?

Alongside the feedback from patients, clinicians have also looked at local services to see what could improve.

CCGs and NHS providers are now working together to look at how services can improve based on this review and the information received from patients.

In October, the county’s acute providers submitted proposals for improvements, which have recently been reviewed by a panel from the South East Clinical Senate to offer independent advice, national experience and expertise.

The final Senate report is due in December and our work will continue on this.

We are also setting up groups to look at prevention services and rehabilitation, and all of the feedback we have received from people and carers will be central to this work.

Whilst this work continues, we will aim to keep talking to our local communities and sharing the latest developments as this work progresses. 

Video script

As part of a bigger, national programme we are looking at the whole patient pathway for stroke.

We looked at a lot of data, and are speaking to local hospitals, patients and professionals. Right now, strokes happens to over 100,000 people in England every year, and can cause serious disability and death. Early recognition is vital.

"I was eating my tea and I couldn’t get my words out. I started dribbling and I then I dropped my knife. My wife thought that I might be having a stroke and decided to call an ambulance."

You might think this is where the patient pathway begins, but it’s actually much earlier. Living in an unhealthy way, along with having existing medical conditions like an irregular heartbeat, diabetes or obesity, increases the risk of strokes.

"When the ambulance came I didn’t go to my local hospital – I went to a specialist unit instead. I just wanted to get to hospital quickly, but the ambulance crew reassured me that this was the best for me. While time is critical, national evidence shows that a specialist stroke unit called a HASU gives the best outcomes for patients. At the specialist centre, they had the equipment, as well as the doctors and nurses, who deal with strokes all the time. Seeing the therapists and the team around me doing all sorts of tests…. I definitely knew I had come to the right place ."

In a HASU they can identify quickly which specialist treatments need to be given. It’s not just medication; for about 14% percent of patients there will be thrombolysis – an injection which breaks down clots. But for all our patients we know that having specialist teams makes a dramatic difference to long term outcomes – not just to survival but to your quality of life after stroke.

"They started my rehabilitation really quickly and I was surprised that the discharge team got me home so early. For those that can, it’s best for patients to recover in their own homes; this type of early supportive discharge improves both physical and emotional wellbeing. My wife didn’t think we could cope at first, but we had help from our therapists and the community team to make it work. They gave us the confidence to start picking up our lives again."

However serious or severe the stroke, whether it’s full time residential care, a support group to help deal with new challenges, or even help in returning to work, rehabilitation plays a crucial role.

"I know I came close to dying; I don’t want to go through that again. So I eat better now, go on walks every day and drink less beer; simple stuff but it makes a big difference. The biggest risk factor in having a stroke is having had one already, but it’s never too late to minimise your chances of becoming ill again. We all have a choice, every day. Sometimes I wonder… if I could turn back the clock and do things differently... No-one ever thinks they’re going to have a stroke – I certainly didn’t. I’m just grateful that when I had mine I had the best specialist care and support possible and can still enjoy my life and my family. "

It’s our vision that reviewing the entire stroke pathway from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation will help us to improve stroke services in our local community and, in turn, help us see fewer strokes alongside better outcomes and better lives for stroke survivors across our local area.