SENDING stroke victims to Coventry has been branded a joke by healthcare campaigners.
The first stage of the Coventry and Warwickshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) – which covers NHS spending over the next five years in a bid to save £267million – has seen proposals to cut all 12 specialist stroke beds at Warwick Hospital, and remove treatment facilities for those at risk of mini-strokes.
George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton and Rugby St Cross Hospital would also lose 24 stroke beds between them.
All patients from across Warwickshire will instead be taken to University Hospital Coventry, where an extra six ‘hyper-acute’ care beds are being made available for those who have just suffered a stroke – taking the total beds up to 12.
There will also be 31 specialist stroke beds at the hospital – just one more than the 30 it previously had.
Rehabilitation beds will be provided at Leamington Hospital, which will lose one bed taking its total to 19, and George Eliot Hospital will also have 20 beds. These would both cater for patients from across Warwickshire.
The result of the cost-cutting would see most care delivered in the community and STP bosses plan to focus more on stroke prevention for those at risk.
But South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public (SWKONP) fear the consequences of the cuts to Coventry and Warwickshire’s stroke service.
Chairwoman Professor Anna Pollert said: “The plan is about cuts, and more ‘care in the community’ – with no mention of how this will be staffed and funding.
“The loss of acute stroke care across Warwickshire means people will have to travel further to visit those recovering in hospital. The CCGs’ answer is ‘We may provide a leaflet about transport options you can choose’. This is a joke.
“The engagement document does not explain how an already overcrowded UHCW can cope with more patients, and one fears that patients will be discharged too early. Who will care of them at home? ‘Care in the community’ usually means unpaid carers.”
The plans have been devised by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) from across Coventry and Warwickshire.
They say changes have to be made as the service differed so much across the county and they could not ‘guarantee every patient is receiving the best possible care’.
Chair of South Warwickshire CCG Dr David Spraggett said: “Firstly local stroke patients, their carers and the Stroke Association have helped us to develop these proposals, which are first and foremost about saving lives and reducing disability. Evidence shows that we can prevent more strokes and that people are more likely to survive and have the best chance of recovering after a stroke if treated by a specialist team both in hospital and for their rehabilitation, these proposals achieve that. Nationally, there is a shortage of specialist stroke doctors, nurses and therapists. This means that it is very important to make best use of the specialists’ skills by concentrating them.
“The proposal is therefore, to have the specialist acute centre for stroke services at University Hospital in Coventry, where there is already a Hyper Acute Stroke Unit. Most people will then go home with specialist rehabilitation care, or where they are not well enough for home, to rehabilitation beds in Leamington for South Warwickshire and a small number of Coventry and Rugby patients.”
Patients can have their say on the plans by completing an online questionnaire – www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NHSstrokeservices – by July 16.