Pilot allows ambulance staff to FaceTime specialist stroke consultants

Published on 14 May 2020

An innovative pilot between East Kent Hospitals and South East Coast Ambulance Service is ensuring that stroke patients receive the best care during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ambulance staff can access specialist stroke consultants 24/7 via FaceTime, to help them decide on the best treatment.

It means potentially vulnerable patients can avoid a trip to hospital ‘just in case’ as experts can reliably make a diagnosis remotely about whether someone has suffered a stroke or not.

Dr David Hargroves, stroke consultant at East Kent Hospitals, 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.”

FAST refers to the warning signs for stroke – Face: has the patient’s face dropped on one side? Arms: Is there weakness in one arm? Speech: Are there speech difficulties? Time: Time to act fast and dial 999.

Dr Fionna Moore, medical director at SECAMB, said the pilot had huge potential.

She 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 this and other areas of care for the benefit of patients across our region.”