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‘Ground-breaking’ mobile stroke unit relaunched to save lives

PUBLISHED: 12:16 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:16 07 May 2020

Left to right, Nick Hulme, ESNEFT chief executive, Carolyn Tester, ESNEFT head of transformation, Dr Sajid Alam, stroke consultant at Ipswich Hospital, Dan Phillips from EEAST and Professor Silke Walter, neurology consultant with the unit in 2019. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Left to right, Nick Hulme, ESNEFT chief executive, Carolyn Tester, ESNEFT head of transformation, Dr Sajid Alam, stroke consultant at Ipswich Hospital, Dan Phillips from EEAST and Professor Silke Walter, neurology consultant with the unit in 2019. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

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A mobile stroke unit has been relaunched in east Suffolk in the hopes of preventing death or serious disability, after a successful trial in Ipswich last summer.

Left to right, Professor Silke Walter, neurology consultant, Dr Sajid Alam, stroke consultant at Ipswich Hospital and Dan Phillips from EEAST in 2019. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTLeft to right, Professor Silke Walter, neurology consultant, Dr Sajid Alam, stroke consultant at Ipswich Hospital and Dan Phillips from EEAST in 2019. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

The scheme is being run by a partnership of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) and Saarland University in Germany.

Dr Sajid Alam, stroke consultant at ESNEFT’s Ipswich Hospital, said: “We are delighted to welcome the stroke ambulance back to Ipswich.

“The diagnostic capability on scene will enable us to provide safe, effective and appropriate care and keep people within the community wherever possible.

“With strokes, time is of the essence.

The Mobile Stroke Unit was initially launched at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust in the summer of 2019. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe Mobile Stroke Unit was initially launched at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust in the summer of 2019. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

“Every minute of delay can result in the loss of two million brain cells and lead to serious disability or even death.

“Thanks to the stroke ambulance, crews were able to administer clot-busting drugs to our first two patients on scene.

“A faster delivery of the clot-busting drug could make a significant difference to their outcomes and may even have saved their lives.”

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The unit is being tested as part of a research study and provides faster access to diagnostics and the correct treatment.

The modified ambulance attends calls to suspected strokes so crews can carry out CT scans and other tests inside the vehicle.

Then, they decide on the best course of treatment, which could include a clot-busting thrombolysis to increase the patient’s chance of recovering, transport to a specialist centre or a referral to their GP.

Dr Tom Davis, medical director at EEAST, said: “We’re delighted that the stroke ambulance has returned to Suffolk.

“It will allow us to provide a gold standard of pre-hospital care while also supporting our work during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ambulance will prove especially useful in rural areas, where travel time to hospital can be significant.

“We look forward to measuring its success at the end of the trial.”

The ambulance is remaining in Ipswich over the next few weeks and is being manned by a visiting neurology consultant Professor Silke Walter and a team of specially trained staff from EEAST – it is operational 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

MORE: Patients needing ‘urgent’ care told to still visit hospital despite coronavirus crisis


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