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Update on stroke and vascular services in Kent and Medway

17 September 2018

Stroke services

The NHS in Kent and Medway has today published the preferred option for three new specialist ‘hyper acute stroke units’ to be introduced across the county. This is part of an ongoing review of urgent stroke services led by local doctors and other clinicians. The aim is to reorganise services so that specialist stroke staff can more consistently deliver high quality care around the clock, and in so doing reduce deaths and long-term disability from stroke for local people.

The preferred option is to have hyper acute stroke units, alongside acute stroke units, at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

Currently stroke services do not consistently meet best-practice standards across the whole of Kent and Medway. The identification of a preferred option brings the NHS a step closer to improving stroke outcomes and reducing deaths and disability because of stroke. The preferred option was identified following careful consideration of the responses to a public consultation, all the evidence and data gathered during the four-year review, and further detailed evaluation of five shortlisted options including trust proposals for implementation.

The next stage in the review process is to develop a decision-making business case – a detailed document that will describe how the preferred option was selected and set out an implementation plan that will cover areas such as workforce, estates and capital requirement. A Joint Committee of the ten local NHS clinical commissioning groups that ran the consultation will examine this and then make a final decision on the future shape of urgent stroke services in January 2019.

The NHS is also announcing details of a proposed new approach to rehabilitation for stroke patients. A key theme from the public consultation was that good quality, well-resourced rehabilitation services, in or close to home, were of vital importance to local people.

Over the next few months the NHS will be gathering views and feedback on the proposed new approach to rehabilitation from stroke survivors, their families and carers, front-line staff, local councillors and the public to help inform detailed implementation plans. Look out for further information on the Kent and Medway NHS website.

Vascular services

East Kent Hospitals has been working with NHS England and Medway Maritime Foundation Trust for some time to plan and deliver a more sustainable vascular service that can consistently deliver quality care for patients in Kent and Medway.

Vascular services treat diseases of the vascular system, or arteries and veins. Currently patients in Kent and Medway are treated at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital or Medway Maritime Hospital. 

NHS England and the Trusts have already agreed to create a single emergency and inpatient vascular service for the county (arterial centre) to be located in east Kent, with an enhanced non-arterial vascular service at Medway Maritime Hospital. 

The wider work underway to decide how urgent, emergency and acute medical care in east Kent should be configured will determine which east Kent hospital the vascular service will be located at in future, following public consultation.  

In the meantime we continue to work together to take steps to coordinate the service and improve services to patients.  

A recent, detailed evaluation by NHS England recommends creating an interim arterial centre at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. This is a recommendation at this stage, with a final decision to be taken by NHS England commissioners.