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Right Arrow Stroke patients benefit from virtual consultation
28 September 2011 at 09:55
Stroke patients are benefitting from round-the-clock stroke treatment thanks to innovative use of teleconferencing technology by hospital doctors.

Fifteen stroke consultants from six hospitals, including Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, are providing out-of-hours clinical advice online from their homes to eight hospital sites across Lancashire and Cumbria.

The stroke consultant will be linked to a “telecart” positioned at the patient’s bedside in the Accident and Emergency Department or, in some cases, the stroke unit. The consultant will conduct a virtual consultation, seeing and speaking to the patient and recommending an appropriate treatment.

The Telestroke service is set to transform and improve the diagnosis and treatment of all stroke patients by providing round-the-clock thrombolysis treatment (the use of drugs to break up or dissolve blood clots). In addition to huge patient benefits, the service is also expected to save the NHS more than £8 million a year.

Dr John Horsley and Dr Patrick McDonald have been closely involved in the development of the new Telestroke service at Southport and Formby District General Hospital.

Dr McDonald said: “Stroke specialist nurse Lucy Bowers and the rest of the nursing, rehabilitation and radiology teams have done a fantastic job to make this new service happen.

“If a patient arrives in hospital with a stroke, outside the normal working day, a Telestroke consultation will then be commenced. The telecart contains a screen so the patient can see the consultant and a camera for the consultant to view the patient and will be placed in front of the patient’s bed. The consultant will then be able to ask the patient questions and perform an examination with the help of the local team to decide whether the new symptoms have been due to a stroke and whether thrombolysis treatment is appropriate.”

“Thrombolysis treatment can only be given to patients within four-and-a-half hours of the onset of their stroke so time is core to this treatment and Telestroke will help improve the speed of patient diagnosis.’’

The Telestroke service utilises groundbreaking telecommunications which will maximise the number of patients given effective stroke treatment and drastically reduce the number of stroke-related disabilities and deaths in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Kathy Blacker, Director of the Cumbria and Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network, said: “The Telestroke system has been two years in the planning, as a team effort between all members of the network. By combining our resources and taking advantage of new technologies, we can now ensure that every suitable stroke patient gets this fantastic treatment, wherever they are in the region and whatever time of day their stroke hits.”

Issued by Tony Ellis, marketing and communications manager
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

Telephone 01704 704494

Notes for editors

1. Pictures shows Consultant Patrick McDonald and Stroke Specialist Nurse Lucy Bowers with the telecart

2. Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust manages Southport and Formby District General Hospital and Ormskirk and District General Hospital. Since 1 April 2011, it is also responsible for many community healthcare services for adults in Southport, Formby and West Lancashire.

3. The six trusts participating in the Telestroke network and providing consultants for the service are:

- Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
- Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust
- University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
- North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

Of the Trusts involved, Telestroke will be at the following eight hospital sites:

- Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle
- West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven
- Furness General Hospital, Barrow
- Royal Lancaster Infirmary
- Blackpool Victoria Hospital
- Royal Preston Hospital
- Royal Blackburn Hospital
- Southport and Formby District General Hospital

4. Out of hours refers to a service that is utilised out of the normal, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm hours.

5. Thrombolysis the use of clot-busting drugs to break up or dissolve blood clots, which are the main cause of stroke (ischemic).

6. Virgin Media has been commissioned to provide broadband equipment and manage the network infrastructure, providing a 24/7 helpdesk to ensure smooth running of the Telestroke service. For more information on Virgin Media’s involvement, please contact, Chrissie McGoldrick from Speed Communications on or 020 7842 3264

7. When Stroke Strikes Act F.A.S.T

Face – Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
Arms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech – Is their speech slurred?
Time – time to call 999 If you see any one of these signs

8. The implementation of the Telestroke Network across the Cumbria and Lancashire regions was coordinated by the Cardiac and Stroke Networks in Cumbria & Lancashire