Posted on Tuesday 21st August 2012
Dr Paul Davies
The ‘Telestroke’ service which links eight hospitals across the Cardiac and Stroke Network in Lancashire and Cumbria, has just celebrated a very successful first year.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust was the lead provider in setting up the service which has provided a huge boost for acute stroke patients across the hospital sites.
A total of 15 stroke consultants including those at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, have come together to provide 24/7 thrombolysis treatment for patients. The consultants provide ‘out of hours’ clinical advice from their homes using high speed broadband technology to remotely connect to the eight hospital sites.
Each stroke consultant is linked by broadband to a Telecart, which is positioned at the patient’s bedside in A&E or in some cases, the stroke unit. Consultants are able to have a ‘two-way’ virtual consultation, enabling them to see and speak to patients via innovative teleconferencing equipment and recommend appropriate treatment.
Since its launch last summer, a total of 343 advice calls have taken place, 319 Telestroke assessments and 131 patients have been thrombolysed.
In recognition of the success of the service, Virgin Media Business who provide all the equipment and IT infrastructure needed for the service, made a short film about it which has been distributed to their clients and broadcast on the internet. As the lead provider, the filming took place in the Cumberland Infirmary with the focus on Dr Paul Davies, Elderly Care Consultant, who has led the development of the service with colleagues at the Cardiac and Stroke Network in Lancashire and Cumbria. Howard Thomas from Carlisle, who was the first patient to be treated using Telestroke, also appeared on the film to speak about his experience. Medical staff were astounded at how quickly he made a full recovery following his thrombolysis treatment and Howard was full of praise for the service.
Dr Paul Davies, said: “If a patient arrives in hospital with a stroke outside of the normal working day, we can start a Telestroke consultation. We can perform an examination with the help of the local team to decide whether the symptoms have been due to a stroke and whether thrombolysis treatment (the use of drugs to break up or dissolve blood clots) is appropriate.”
“Thrombolysis treatment can only be given to patients within four and a half hours of the onset of their stroke so time is core to this treatment and Telestroke has helped improve the speed of patient diagnosis. The sooner treatments can be provided, the better the outcome for patients. Anybody that develops new Facial weakness, new Arm weakness, new Speech disturbance should do what it says in the FAST test and dial 999.”
“One year on, I am delighted to say that the service is still going strong and we have treated a large number of patients very successfully.”
Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, will be visiting the Cumberland Infirmary on Friday 7 September at 3pm to meet Dr Davies and learn more about the Telestroke service.