There have been a number of articles recently, highlighting the shortcomings of South Tyneside General Hospital when it comes to stroke care.
Having used that service more than once over the last four years I felt it necessary to set the record straight.
My dad has experienced a number of strokes over the last few years. Every time we have needed help, the staff at South Tyneside General Hospital have been absolutely first rate.
It is imperative for the doctors to identify what type of stroke a patient is having before treatment can be administered. This is usually determined via the use of a CT scanner to establish whether the patient is suffering from a blood clot (ischemic Stroke) or a bleed in the brain (Hemorrhagic stroke). Once they have established what type of stroke it is, they then need to identify roughly when the stroke started to occur.
There is a very small window of time where active treatment either in the form of an operation to relieve internal pressure in the skull in the case of a brain bleed, thrombolysis (the injection of a clot buster) or aspirin (administered via a suppository) in the case of a blood clot in the brain, can make a significant difference to a person’s final outcome. So it is literally a balancing act.
In my dad’s case, the staff at South Tyneside General Hospital have been extremely effective in preserving his life, preventing further deterioration and promoting recovery. Even without a specialist stroke consultant on site. All the doctors, nurses and support staff there have been professional, informative and above all caring.
After receiving life saving treatment over a 10-week period, and actually leaving the hospital to return home and start the long road to rehabilitation and recovery. The stroke aftercare team, which consists of a number of specialist stroke nurses, physio therapists, occupational therapists, technical instructors and speech therapists have been absolutely superb.
Merger of stroke services with Sunderland Royal Hospital has largely been pitched as a silver bullet to immediately improve the standard of diagnosis and care.
The reality is that this simply is not necessary as we have a fantastic team here at our own hospital.
Both Acute stroke care and chronic aftercare services should be kept available at both Sunderland Royal Hospital and South Tyneside General Hospital so that patients can be given the best possible chance of being diagnosed and treated within that ‘golden hour’.
More resources should be made available at both Sunderland Royal and South Tyneside General Hospitals, in terms of beds, training and equipment (iPads). That can give the staff the setting and tools they require, to provide patients under their care with the best possible outcome when they have experienced a stroke.
Thank you so much to all of the staff at South Tyneside Hospital’s Stroke team, who have worked so hard to give me my dad back. It will be a long road to recovery, but we will get him there with your continued support.