£8m stroke rehabilitation unit opens in New Year

A new £8m dedicated stroke and general rehabilitation unit in Norfolk will open its doors to patients in less than a month, it has been announced.

Today the keys of the new unit were handed over to officially mark the end of the construction phase and work will now being to install specialist equipment on the two wards. Patients will then be admitted from Tuesday, January 5.

Built on the Norwich Community Hospital site on Bowthorpe Road, Norwich, the Mulberry Rehabilitation Unit will house the 24-bedded Beech Stroke Rehabilitation Ward and the 24-bedded Alder General Rehabilitation Ward.

When it opens, the unit will see hundreds of patients, from NHS Norfolk’s area, benefit every year from additional and improved services aimed at helping them recover from the effects of stroke, as well as offering care for patients who are well enough to move on from an acute hospital bed, but perhaps not yet recovered enough to return home.

Patients primarily from the central Norfolk area – encompassing Norwich, South and North Norfolk – will be admitted to the stroke rehab ward. Patients in the west of the county will continue to be referred to rehabilitation units and services already established at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn.

Funded by NHS Norfolk (NHSN), the unit is the single biggest investment in any capital scheme since the primary care trust was established in 2006.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH), in partnership with Norfolk Community Health & Care (NHC&C), will manage the new stroke ward, with NCH&C providing services and staff. NCH&C is directly commissioned by NHSN to continue providing general rehab in the Alder Ward.

Dr Ian Mack, Chair of NHSN’s Clinical Executive and clinical lead on stroke, said: “This new, purpose-built facility demonstrates a major investment in the care and welfare of our patients, and it is part of our commitment to aid in the recovery of those patients after operations or acute hospital stays, and to reduce the risk of disabilities from traumatic events such as stroke.

“NHSN made a promise to deliver a dedicated stroke unit for our patients and even better general rehabilitation facilities. Thanks to the joint working between a number of teams, from the health service providers to estates, we are delighted to say the first patients will be admitted from January 6 into a fantastic new facility.”

Val Macqueen, Acting Director of Adult Services for NCH&C, said: “This new rehabilitation centre will provide even more excellent services, within improved, purpose-built facilities for patients.

“The real success of the services within these modern surroundings will rest in the hands of the committed teams of people who will add their professionalism and dedication to making these healthcare services even better.”

Dr Kneale Metcalf, Clinical Lead for Stroke Services at NNUH, said: “The new stroke ward will mean we will be able to offer an excellent and seamless range of health services for patients, and will really make a difference as to how quickly and effectively they recover.

“It is also a central part in supporting the improvements we have already begun to deliver within our emergency hospital services, and those being developed within the community,” he said.

Clinicians were involved in informing the design of the new facility which has been built to current infection control and environmental standards. Each ward consists of:

• 4 x four-bedded bays
• 6 x single-bed rooms
• 1 x two-bedded bay
• Bariatric rooms for obese patients
• All with en-suite bathrooms and all in a single-sex ward layout

In addition there will be a new therapeutic gymnasium, a therapeutic kitchen and purpose-built staff facilities.

Alder (General Rehabilitation) Ward
The 24 general rehabilitation beds are for patients who are well enough to move on from an acute hospital bed but perhaps not yet recovered enough to return home.

The new beds will replace a similar number of beds currently in use on an elderly medicine ward – the Henderson Ward – based at the Julian Hospital site, in Bowthorpe Road.

Beds will be kept open on Henderson for the winter months to ease winter pressures on acute and intermediate care beds.

Staff will move to the new ward from Henderson in a phased approach, to ensure continuity of healthcare on both wards. Both wards will be fully staffed in the interim.

Beech (Stroke Rehabilitation) Ward
The new stroke rehab ward is part of NHSN’s investment into improvements in services for stroke patients, aimed at reducing the number of deaths and the level of disability as a result of stroke, improving quality of life for patients and their families.

At any time in the UK one-in-five acute hospital beds and one-in-four long-term care beds are occupied by stroke patients. And outcomes for stroke patients in the UK are less good than in other European countries, with many enduring long hospital stays and suffering disability and mortality that could have been reduced.

A total of 50 new NHS jobs for nurses, therapists and doctors are being provided on the new stroke ward, incorporating 29 nursing staff, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, rehabilitation assistants, speech and language therapists, a housekeeper, doctors, admin staff, and a clinical psychologist.

– Ends –

Notes to Editors:

An official opening event is expected to be held in February or March. Media will be invited to attend and further details will be provided closer to the time.

Media Contact:
Lisa Mungham-Gray
Public Relations Manager
NHS Norfolk Community Health and Care
01603 595801

Wednesday 16th of December 2009 10:00:17 AM