Published on: 1 May 2019
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust staff will be highlighting the importance of understanding the link between high blood pressure and stroke and of ‘knowing your numbers’ during Stroke Awareness Month in May.
High blood pressure puts a strain on all the blood vessels in your body. This makes a blockage more likely to develop and move, or a blood vessel in the brain to weaken or bleed, both of which could cause a stroke. The Trust’s stroke specialist nurses have arranged a series of ‘pressure station’ events* at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital for the public and staff throughout May. With the support of the Stroke Association, they will be taking blood pressure readings, as well as raising awareness and providing information on the risks of high blood pressure.
Stroke Specialist Nurse Diane Gulliver said: “High blood pressure often has no symptoms but it is the biggest risk factor for stroke. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure tested regularly. If it is identified then the good news is that lifestyle changes and medication can help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.
We are hoping through our pressure stations to reach people who, perhaps, wouldn't usually get a blood pressure check and educate more members of the public and staff about this important health issue.”
More patients across South Tyneside and Sunderland are now getting access to high quality stroke care and lifesaving treatment thanks to major changes made as part of Phase One of the Path to Excellence programme to transform local hospital services to meet the future needs of patients and offer the best possible care.
Data from the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) shows the quality of stroke services has risen significantly since all acute inpatient stroke care was centralised at Sunderland Royal Hospital in December 2016, with more patients now receiving timely care, delivered by specialists, in a dedicated acute stroke unit.
SSNAP is used to measure the quality of stroke services across the NHS. It uses a number of key measures which are known to prevent serious, long-term disabilities and give patients the very best chance of surviving a stroke and returning to as normal a life as possible following a stroke. Overall, the new specialist acute stroke inpatient service across South Tyneside and Sunderland is now rated at level B. Prior to the changes, stroke services in South Tyneside were rated at level E and in Sunderland level D.
Major improvements in clinical outcomes for patients include:
70% of patients are now receiving a CT within 1 hour compared to just 22% of South Tyneside patients prior to the change
85% of eligible patients are now receiving thrombolysis (clot busting drugs) compared to just 9% of South Tyneside patients prior to the change
74% of patients are now directly admitted to a dedicated acute stroke unit compared to just 6% of South Tyneside patients prior to the change
The average time taken for South Tyneside patients to receive a CT scan has reduced from 2 hours to 35 minutes
The average time taken for South Tyneside patients to be assessed by a specialist has reduced from 13 hours to 5 hours and 47 minutes.
By concentrating teams of stroke consultants and therapy specialists into one dedicated acute stroke unit, there have also been many positive benefits for Sunderland patients who are now also receiving more timely care:
70% of patients are now receiving a CT within 1 hour compared to just 41% of Sunderland patients prior to the change
85% of eligible patients are now receiving thrombolysis (clot busting drugs) compared to just 63% of Sunderland patients prior to the change
The average time taken for Sunderland patients to receive a CT scan has reduced from just over 1 hour to 35 minutes
The average time taken for Sunderland patients to be assessed by a specialist has reduced from 8 hours to 5 hours and 47 minutes.
* The pressure stations will be held as follows:
South Tyneside District Hospital, Alexander’s restaurant, Wednesday, May 1st; Tuesday, May 7th; Wednesday, May 15th and Thursday, May 23rd, all 11am-2pm
Sunderland Royal Hospital, main concourse, Kayll Road entrance, Wednesday, May 8th; Friday, May 24th; and Wednesday, May 29th, all 1pm-5pm