The NHS is today urging anyone who thinks they or a loved one have symptoms of the killer condition not be put off seeking help because of coronavirus but to ‘act FAST’.
As part of the Help Us Help You campaign the NHS is therefore urging the public to continue to act F.A.S.T. and dial 999 when stroke strikes.
NHS staff have worked hard to ensure anyone who needs stroke care can safely get it, with services across the country being restructured to reduce the risk of infection in hospital with the split of A&E services into Covid and non-covid areas. Even during the peak of the pandemic the NHS was providing excellent care for people who’d suffered a stroke, and across the South East services have got better thanks to the use of technology to speed up response times to Stroke.
Stroke is a life threatening condition that often results in people being taken by ambulance to A&E for emergency treatment where time is of the essence.
As the coronavirus pandemic set in, South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust fast-tracked the use of an AI tool so they could make faster and better decisions about treatment for stroke patients. The rapid adoption of FaceTime to specialists for all stroke patients 24/7 has been implemented in order to protect potentially vulnerable patients from unnecessary journeys.
Dr Fionna Moore, Medical Director at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We support the use of handheld technology to assist our clinicians and hospital stroke medicine experts in the rapid identification of stroke patients to expedite their treatment. This direct link to local experts is a real advantage and we are keen to see how this can be developed and honed in, in other areas of care for the benefit of our patients across our region.”
Dr David Hargroves, Stroke Consultant at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said: “This pilot is revolutionising how we triage patients with stroke like symptoms before they come to hospital. Being able to see and interact with patients, family members and the ambulance service clinicians gives us a unique opportunity to make the right diagnosis and treatment plan while the patient is still at home. Evidence so far shows this is reducing unnecessary hospital transfers, which improves patient experience and releases valuable paramedic time. If you or a loved one experience stroke like symptoms, please help us help you, act FAST, and call 999.”
Dr Thakkar, Clinical Lead at NHS England’s Strategic Clinical Network – Thames Valley and Hampshire, said: “GPs across the South East have adapted to new and agile ways of working since the outbreak of Covid-19 and are now able to offer a variety of consultation options including via text, phone and through video. We are actively in contact with patients who are at risk of stroke which include people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat and diabetes”
“I have been encouraging patients to use home blood pressure machines to send their readings through to the practice. To date we have had 363 readings into my practice alone. We also want to hear from people who are suffering from breathlessness and palpitations as these can be early signs of being at risk of this life threatening health condition. ”
“GP practices and hospitals are now working in a way which means we can run life saving tests at the same time as protecting patients and our own staff from Covid-19 using protective equipment. The risk of ignoring the early signs of a stroke can make a difference between being able to make a full recovery or living with serious disability or even death,”