hitting back ... Dr Jon Scott of South Tyneside NHS Trust.
HOSPITAL bosses in South Tyneside have hit back at figures which appear to show that the treatment of stroke patients in the borough is not up to scratch.
Quarterly data on the quality of stroke care, released by the Royal College of Physicians, charts the first 72 hours of care a patient receives.
The figures, collected between April and June, show South Tyneside District Hospital NHS Trust performed significantly worse than the national average.
Hospital chiefs say the figures are not a true representation of their performance because they don’t take into account the way patients are admitted in the borough.
The Trust has spent £1m revamping the stroke unit at the Harton Lane hospital and say the numbers aren’t a true representation because a third of the 75 units involved didn’t supply information and the way in which patients receive treatment is also not taken into account.
The data claimed that it took 421 minutes for patients in the borough to receive a scan on arrival at hospital, compared with the national average of 143 minutes.
It also highlighted that it took 227 minutes – compared with 128 minutes nationally – for patients to come into contact with a member of the stroke team.
This increased to 230 minutes – above the national average of 188 – when out of hours.
Dr Jon Scott, consultant stroke physician, said the figures are assumed to be correct, but not all stroke units entered data into the Stroke Improvement National Audit Programme (SINAP) so the national average wasn’t a true representation.
He said: “The guidance for CT scans is that they need to be done for all patients within 24 hours and, for a small minority, as soon as possible.
“The national average includes data from hyperacute units, where patients are diverted past their local hospital. Therefore, it is rather difficult to interpret as the national average figure comprises many different types of stroke service.”
He said South Tyneside has a 24/7 consultant-led and delivered service that is able to guarantee treatment, irrespective of time of onset of symptoms and guarantees a consultant review within 24 hours for all patients, even at weekends and bank holidays.
Dr Scott says the pathway the hospital uses to treat its patients through its A&E department, before they are transferred to the stroke unit, has also affected scores.
He said: “Our pathway utilises the on-call registrar to review acute stroke patients in A&E.
“This is not classified as a ‘member of the stroke team’ according to the SINAP data definitions, hence the higher than average score.
“First contact with someone who fits the SINAP definition tends to occur when the patient arrives on the stoke unit.
“This is why our in-hours and out-of hours contact times are virtually identical.”
The next audit figures are due in November.