Telestroke scheme aids stroke patients at north Cumbria's hospitals
Last updated at 13:07, Wednesday, 22 August 2012
More than 600 patients have been given “virtual” advice in a high tech scheme led by north Cumbria hospitals.
Stroke specialists at the Cumberland Infirmary and the West Cumberland Hospital now use video technology so that patients can be seen 24 hours a day.
The Telestroke service – which uses laptop computers to link experts from eight hospitals in the north west – was launched by north Cumbria’s hospitals in a scheme involving Cumbria and Lancashire last summer.
It has since helped hundreds of patients, including dozens locally, and many of who have been able to receive potentially life-saving drugs.
It was launched by local specialists to help more stroke victims access special clot-busting drugs – which can dramatically improve the chances of recovery. Until a year ago, this specialist treatment – called thrombolysis – was only available if they took ill in normal office hours.
This was because the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital, like many other hospitals in areas with fairly low populations, did not have enough specialist consultants to staff the emergency service 24/7.
They came up with the idea of teaming up with other hospitals in Cumbria and Lancashire to launch the pioneering Telestroke service.
A total of 15 stroke consultants are now working to provide out of hours advice – made possible thanks to video links and high-speed broadband technology.
A unit is positioned at the patient’s bedside in A&E or the stroke unit. Consultants are then able to have a two-way virtual consultation.
Since its launch last summer, 343 advice calls have taken place. A further 319 Telestroke assessments have been carried out and 131 of them have been thrombolysed.
Almost 100 of these patients were from the Carlisle and Whitehaven hospital sites.
In recognition of the success of the service, Virgin Media Business – which provides all the equipment and IT infrastructure – made a short film which has been distributed to clients and broadcast on the internet. As the lead provider, filming took place at the Cumberland Infirmary with the focus on elderly care consultant Dr Paul Davies, who led the development of the service.
The film also featured Carlisle’s Howard Thomas – the first patient to be treated using Telestroke.
Dr Davies, said: “Thrombolysis treatment can only be given to patients within four and a half hours of the onset of their stroke. The sooner treatments can be provided, the better the outcome for patients.”
He urged anyone who spots the potential signs of a stroke – facial weakness, arm weakness and speech disturbance – to call 999 immediately.
First published at 11:24, Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk