South Tyneside Hospital has been revealed as the worst in the country for the services it provides to stroke victims.
The Stroke Association has released a ‘postcode lottery’ of patient care.
Of the five indicators studied - between March 2015 and April 2016 - South Tyneside District Hospital was the worst in three and the fourth from bottom in another.
The research found that only 12.3% of patients were admitted to stroke units within four hours, just 15.8% were given swallow screenings within four hours and just 42.6% of eligible patients received thrombolysis within four hours.
Those figure put South Tyneside at the bottom in these categories. It was also in the bottom four of hospitals where brain scans are carried out within an hour at just 23.1%.
Pat Walker, whose husband Derek was a stroke vicitim, is chairman of South Tyneside Life after Stroke Club and said the findings are disgraceful.
She said: “I am stunned by these findings. There needs to be some serious questions asked.
“It is disgraceful. It is really, really bad, they should be ashamed.
“I have seen at first hand the devastation strokes can have on people’s lives. It is critical that people get the help they need as soon as possible. The longer treatment takes the harder it is to get back what the patient has lost, both mentally and physically.”
The Stroke Association is calling on the Government to give all hospitals the support they need following findings of excessive regional variations.
Ken Bremner, Chief Executive of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that the quality of care for stroke patients in South Tyneside needs to be improved and this has been a driver for change in both hospitals.
“We have already started to make arrangements for a temporary change to the way acute stroke services are delivered as it was recognised the service at South Tyneside District Hospital was vulnerable because of challenges in recruiting a specialist stroke consultant.
“Acute stroke care for South Tyneside residents being temporarily centralised at Sunderland Royal Hospital and by doing this we will be better placed to achieve key national standards and therefore ensure both organisations are providing the best possible care in order to maximise recovery following a stroke.”