Scrutiny members question stroke care in county

SUFFOLK: A health boss has admitted to being “ashamed’’ of the performance of Suffolk’s hospitals as they were grilled over their failure to meet national stroke targets.

Members of a health scrutiny committee got the chance to fire questions at an NHS Suffolk boss and representatives from the region’s hospitals which are failing to meet targets.

Last month NHS Suffolk called for urgent action after it emerged Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospitals were failing national targets for the numbers of patients spending 90 per cent of their stay in hospital on a stroke unit where specialist care is available. This means too many stroke patients are spending too long in hospital without specialist care.

Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning at NHS Suffolk, presented a report to the committee yesterday, and told them: “This paper does set out that Suffolk is not getting it right. We are ashamed of our performance currently. We are taking big and bold actions to get it right.”

Many members at the meeting in Suffolk County Council’s headquarters in Ipswich said they were confused by the report, which included a complex table with figures showing missed targets.

Councillor Kathy Pollard said: “I have a real problem with this paper. I still do not understand how things are going to be improved.”

Mrs Dowling said she hoped by September that things would be “back on track”.

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John Watson, director of operations at Ipswich Hospital, said that a recruitment process was currently in place to appoint a specialist stroke consultant in addition to the two stroke consultants at the hospital. The �500,000 investment into stroke facilities at Ipswich Hospital, as reported last month, will go towards paying for extra specialist staff members, including the consultant, nurses and extra therapists.

It was also stated that Suffolk Community Healthcare, which manages community services, has received funding of �400,000 from NHS Suffolk to help train staff in understanding how to treat stroke patients once they were discharged from hospital.

Mrs Dowling said she expected new national targets for stroke care to be announced this week.

It was agreed to look at the issue again in more detail at the committee’s March meeting next year.

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