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News - Secretary of State for Health visits RD&E

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Secretary of State for Health visits RD&E


The Secretary of State for Health heard first hand from hospital staff and patients examples of excellence and innovation in stroke care during his visit today to the Royal Devon & Exeter Wonford hospital.



Minister meets staff and patients


Health Secretary Andrew Lansley met clinicians, nurses, therapists, researchers and patients during his visit which showcased best practice in all aspects of stroke care from emergency admission for specialist treatment to rehabilitation in the community.


Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "It has been a pleasure to visit the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust to see how patients are at the heart of its stroke service. I was shown how specialist stroke care and rehabilitation can be provided in a range of settings from a hospital unit to the familiar surroundings of a patient’s home.


"The success of the service is thanks to great collaborative working between the specialist hospital team, local GPs and ambulance service, in partnership with the university and wider South West research network. Today I was able to see how much their work is valued and the difference it is already making to stroke patients and their families."


He first visited the Emergency Department to hear about an innovative research study between the RD&E, South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust and Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry.


RD&E clinical lead consultant for stroke services Dr Martin James, clinical lead for the Emergency Department Dr Tony Hudson and SWAST deputy clinical director Adrian South explained how they worked collaboratively on research to reduce the time it takes for stroke patients to receive clot busting treatment.


Minister with team


A computer simulation model was used to look at the whole emergency treatment process from when an ambulance is called to someone with a suspected stroke to arrival at our hospital, scans to confirm the diagnosis and when clinically appropriate, a clot-busting drug treatment is administered. Early figures from a pilot started last year for early referral to the acute stroke service from the moment the ambulance arrives at the RD&E Wonford hospital show a doubling of patients being admitted with acute stroke receiving the clot busting drug treatment within the ‘golden’ three hours window, and the RD&E has the highest rate of thrombolysis in the Peninsula Heart & Stroke Network.


Minister and ED Lead


Mr Lansley toured the Acute Stroke Unit where he met former patient Mr Gordon Rice and his wife Jo who agreed there ‘was no place like home’ for their recovery as part of the award winning Early Stroke Discharge Scheme the RD&E piloted in East Devon. ESD team leader Jules Jeffreys explained how patients receive specialist support to assist their rehabilitation and recovery from stroke in the familiar surroundings of their own homes. This scheme recently was highly commended as an excellent example of care integration in a national patient safety award run by the Health Service Journal and Nursing Times.


Senior Physiotherapist Gosia Krzyszkowska, Senior Occupational Therapist Emma Bennett and Senior Speech and Language Therapist Kath Mumby described their service approach to planning and providing stroke rehabilitation support. Senior research practitioner Sam Keenan represented the RD&E stroke research service which is the highest patient recruiter out of all the UK stroke research network centres. The RD&E currently has 14 research studies open.  Between April 2011 and March 2012 the dedicated Exeter team recruited 259 patients into studies aimed at finding ways to prevent, treat, and diagnose stroke and increase the number of people cured whilst improving their quality of life.


Former patient Mr Peter Sargent informed the Health Secretary: “I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of care and kindness I have received from the first call for an ambulance when I had the stroke to the on going support I have in my home. It’s been first class.” Mr Sargent has gone on to take part in research studies over the past five years and he recently held a skittles night to raise money to benefit the stroke service.


The visit was organised at short notice – thank you to everyone who helped with the planning and hosting of this event.




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