‘GAPING’ discrepancies have been revealed in patient stroke care at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.
Data recorded in 2013 shows patients are not getting the quality of stroke care experienced by other hospitals in West Sussex.
The figures, collected as part of the National Stroke Strategy were discussed by West Sussex health and adult social care select committee and NHS Sussex Collaborative.
But St Richard’s Hospital, which is run by Western Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, fell below average on every one of the categories in the document – including patients scanned within one hour of arrival at hospital and the percentage of those given a swallowing test.
“The only conclusion if I were a patient looking at these is I would not want to go to St Richard’s for stroke treatment,” said Dr James Walsh, speaking at the meeting on Thursday.
“I would say to my ambulance please take me somewhere other than St Richard’s unless the figures are very much better now.”
“They are not just small discrepancies, they are gaping discrepancies.
“That requires some explanation – particularly across Worthing and St Richard’s.”
Cllr Walsh said the hospital trust should learn from other trusts in Sussex.
A report by NHS Sussex Collaborative, said recovery from a stroke is ‘significantly influenced’ by the percentage of patients seeing a consultant within 24 hours. It also said having a brain scan within 24 hours of admission, being seen by a nurse or therapist within 72 hours of admission and being admitted to a stroke unit will improve patient recovery.
Kate Parkin, deputy director of Sussex managed clinical networks, said the data collection was only the ‘very start’ of a process.
“At the moment, we can’t guarantee patients are getting the best outcomes.”
The data has been collected as part of the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) as part of a plan to ensure every stroke patient has the best care.
Margaret Evans, committee chairman, said: “Having read the report, the one thing which horrified me as a Chichester-based person were the Chichester figures.”
Rob Haigh, chief of medicine at the trust, said the data did not discuss outcomes.
“We have very good outcomes from the whole pathway. I wouldn’t want that piece of information to be lost. We have a comprehensive improvement plan on-going as we speak.”
Dr Haigh said the trust has become ‘more and more refined in how we collect data’.
“In Worthing and Chichester we have seen a substantial improvement in access to therapy services,” he said. “We need to review a whole year’s worth of data.”
Cllr Walsh said he understood the figures were gathered in one quarter last year – and accepted Dr Haigh’s assurance the hospital was improving.
Cllr Jeremy Hunt said he thought the report made for ‘appalling reading’.
He questioned why seven years after the National Stroke Strategy began, NHS Sussex was still at the beginning of the process.
“This is the report you have put before us. What’s the point in it if it’s not the complete picture?”
Ben Mearns, from Sussex and Surrey healthcare NHS trust, said: “The report gives you a snapshot of the limited part of the audit.
“On this report it suggests A is the average you should be aiming to get at the moment. Band A means world-class.
“At the moment, 85 per cent of stroke services are in band D and E and that is not considered to be poor. No trust is an A in the entire country.”
“The report gives you a snapshot of the limited part of the audit.”
Sandra Field, regional head of operations for the Stroke Association said: “This Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme data provides vitally important information about what is happening when people in West Sussex have a stroke, along national standards.
“It is very encouraging to see that the NHS Trusts are collecting, publishing and reviewing such comprehensive information so they can understand what is happening and drive forward improvements in stroke treatment.”