Mobile stroke unit trial launched in Norfolk
A pioneering project that will bring hospital-level stroke care to people’s homes has been launched in Norfolk.
The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) have teamed up to run a mobile stroke unit as part of a six week trial.
The project aims to save lives and reduce serious disability by making sure patients who suffer a stroke receive fast access to the right treatment.
Every minute counts when someone develops the symptoms of stroke. The mobile stroke unit is a modified ambulance with specially trained crews which can give the patient a CT scan in the vehicle before administering clot-busting thrombolysis treatment where appropriate.
The ambulance is staffed by a consultant and paramedic with a video link with a radiology consultant at the NNUH to ensure a speedy diagnosis and treatment.
The initial trial will cover the Greater Norwich area and follows pilots in Southend and Ipswich.
Dan Phillips, EEAST Area Clinical Lead, said: “The ambulance is great in reducing the time it takes to diagnose and treat a patient who is having a stroke and it could have a big benefit for people living in rural areas. It is bringing hospital-level care to the patient’s home.”
It is hoped that the trial is the first step to having a permanent mobile specialist treatment unit in the region and for other parts of the health system.
Dr Annie Chakrabarti, Consultant Stroke Physician at NNUH, added: “We are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative. If we can intervene and administer clot-busting drugs within 60 minutes of the stroke happening, this could make a really significant difference to the outcome for these patients. Patients who require admission to hospital for further treatment will also be admitted directly to the stroke unit, reducing the need to attend the Emergency Department.”
The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:
Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.