£72,000 award to help improve stroke patient care

Paramedics now able to administer treatments previously only delivered by docs

A new project to extend the amount of treatments a paramedic can deliver to a suspected stroke patient before arrival at hospital has been given the go-ahead.

The 12-month initiative is aimed at improving paramedics' knowledge of stroke patients, helping them to deliver more treatments at the scene.

Professor Bruce Keogh's Urgent and Emergency Care Review, published in January 2013, recommended that ambulance crews be given the ability to make their own independent interventions on stroke patients.

The report stated that paramedics were now able to deliver the type of treatments which, ten years ago, could only have been given by doctors.

Paul Fell, Consultant Paramedic at NEAS, said: "This is great news for the patient and the paramedic profession, having access to the data and enhancing the Paramedic training not only allows the paramedic to be more involved in the whole patient episode but will without doubt increase the paramedics knowledge around strokes and there evolving treatment of these cases. "

"The project is a collaboration between NEAS, Newcastle's Stroke Research Group, and North East healthcare technology company Digital Spark Ltd, and is being funded by a £72,000 award from the Academic Health Science Network - a government body which works towards improving the care of patients using the NHS."

Digital Spark's Strategy Director Michael J Bell, said: "We are very pleased to be involved in this innovative and potentially life saving initiative. Technology has a huge role to play in the future of safer healthcare and we're delighted to share our expertise with our project partners for better connected healthcare delivery".

At present, once a paramedic has handed a patient over to a hospital, no further information is exchanged. A paramedic's average contact time with a stroke patient is 40-minutes. They do not find out if there were complications, or whether the patient survived or died.

While an ambulance can exchange information securely with a hospital, there is no flow from the hospital or GP in the opposite direction.

Increasing the amount of feedback on what happened to a patient following their treatment helps refine a paramedic's future work.

The project also includes the launch of a new training scheme for paramedics, incorporating studies on patient safety and clinical research.

Effective treatment of stroke can prevent long-term disability and save lives.

The National Stroke Strategy, published in December 2007, provides a guide to high quality health and social care for those affected by stroke. Stroke experts have set out standards which define good stroke care, including:

  • a rapid response to a 999 call for suspected stroke
  • prompt transfer to a hospital providing specialist care
  • an urgent brain scan (for example, computerised tomography [CT] or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) undertaken as soon as possible
  • immediate access to a high quality stroke unit
  • early multidisciplinary assessment, including swallowing screening
  • stroke specialised rehabilitation
  • planned transfer of care from hospital to community and longer term support

What to do if you believe someone has suffered a stroke

Call 999

• by calling 999 you can help someone reach hospital quickly and receive the early treatment they need
• prompt action can prevent further damage to the brain and help someone make a full recovery
• delay can result in death or major long-term disabilities, such as paralysis, severe memory loss and communication problems

 http://www.ahsn-nenc.org.uk/

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