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25 August 2020

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ stroke service rated amongst the best in the country

The specialist stroke service provided by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been rated as amongst the best in the country in a recent national audit of care.

The stroke pathway provided by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust comprises key phases of care: Hyper- Acute Stroke Unit Care and Acute Stroke Unit Care, where patients receive their initial specialist care, treatment and early rehabilitation in hospital, and Community Based Specialist Care, where some stroke patients continue their rehabilitation in a specialist community based unit or/and at home.

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital’s regional Hyper- Acute Stroke Unit and Acute Stroke Unit were awarded an ‘A’ rating in the latest Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme report. It is the second consecutive quarter the Trust has attained the top rating.

The report, which was undertaken by the Royal College of Physicians between January and March this year, measures the quality of stroke care, from treatment to recovery, and the structure of services against a number of evidence-based standards.

The timeliness of specialist physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessments, discharge process and fast access to high quality brain scanning facilities, which are critical in determining the type and severity of strokes as well as the provision of early treatments including clot-busting drugs within the optimum time window, were all cited as key areas in which the Trust was delivering exceptional care.

Key achievements included:

  • Over half of patients of all stroke patients received a brain scan within 1 hour of arriving at hospital
  • 85% of eligible stroke patients received thrombolysis, or clot-busting medicines, within 1 hour of arriving at hospital
  • 98% of all stroke patients were assessed by a specialist physiotherapist or occupational therapist within 72 hours of arriving at hospital
  • 88% of all stroke patients were seen by a stroke specialist consultant within 24 hours
  • Over 97% of patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can cause a clot to form in the heart and increases the risk of further strokes, were given anti-clotting medicines or had a plan in place to do so prior to discharge
  • 90% of all stroke patients spent at least 90% of their stay on the stroke unit compared to 80% in the same time period in 2019.

The Stroke Pathway Assessment and Rehabilitation Centre, where certain stroke patients who need continued inpatient care are transferred, to continue their specialist rehabilitation in an environment which is closer to home at a critical point in their recovery, also performed highly in the audit:

  • 80% of patients being cared for with the Centre reached their rehabilitation goals within five days of admission to the unit
  • All patients were seen by a dietician prior to discharge, helping to reduce the risk of patients having another stroke as well as manage the demands of therapy and daily activities through good nutrition
  • Two-thirds of all stroke patients received cognitive and mood assessments, which can help provide appropriate support as psychological problems are common after a stroke and are associated with poorer outcomes.

Dr Amanda Jones, clinical lead for the stroke pathway and stroke nurse consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “These results are a fantastic testament to the wider efforts of the team in supporting patients through all phases of their care, from initial diagnosis through to treatment and longer-term rehabilitation. We are never complacent, however, and we will be using this report to look at ways in which we can build on our successes and further improve services in the future.”

Around 1,000 patients suffer with a stroke in Sheffield a year, with swift, specialist treatment making a big different in recovery.

“Having a stroke is an urgent, medical emergency. If you have any of the three signs described in the FAST test, including a fallen face, inability to raise both arms or keep them there, slurred speech then you should dial 999,” Dr Jones added. “’Time really is brain’ so if you do suspect a stroke, don’t delay or visit or your GP, as the longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the greater the chances of long-term disability of even death.”

For more information about the FAST test visit



Photo: A patient being cared for in the acute stroke unit, prior to Covid-19, 2019.


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