Changes to the way we deliver hyper acute stroke services (the care you receive for up to the first 72 hours after having a stroke) in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw were given the go-ahead last year. Since then, we, as South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, have been meeting as partners to plan how we implement the regional service so that we can further improve our patients’ journeys from their hyper acute care to discharge and ongoing rehabilitation.

Following three years of work, clinical conversations and public consultation, the agreement was that:

  • Hyper acute stroke care would be provided in three units – Doncaster Royal Infirmary, the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield – for all South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw patients, depending on which is the closest and most appropriate for them
  • Hyper acute stroke care would no longer be provided in Barnsley or Rotherham Hospitals and Barnsley and Rotherham stroke patients would be taken instead to one of the regional hyper acute stroke units
  • All hospitals would continue to provide acute stroke care and rehabilitation services and Barnsley and Rotherham patients would be ‘repatriated’ to their local hospital  as soon as medically possible

Supported by the Stroke Association, evidence shows that working in this way can reduce mortality rates, reduce disabilities and will allow us to deliver a more sustainable and high quality service for all. It will also mean there will be more opportunities for staff; including ongoing skill and career development, continual learning and peer support and the potential for increased opportunities in research and innovation. Much of this is because we will be part of the hosted network for stroke services, which was announced last month.

We are now working toward the following:

  • 1 July 2019 – cease the hyper acute stroke service at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust. After this point, the majority of Rotherham’s hyper acute stroke patients will be taken by ambulance for treatment at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield - with the remaining being taken to the hyper acute stroke site at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, depending on which is the closest.
  • 1 October 2019 - cease the hyper acute stroke service at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This will mean that Barnsley patients will be taken to one of the regional hyper acute stroke centres - predominantly Doncaster Royal Infirmary or Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, depending on which is the closest.

In the meantime, services will operate as they are now.

Next steps

We have excellent teams already in place but to support the changes, we also need to recruit some additional staff to care for the additional patients who will be initially treated at the hyper acute stroke units in Doncaster and Sheffield. With this in mind, we will be advertising, via NHS Jobs, for additional nursing and therapy staff in the next week.

There will be further regional and local opportunities available as plans develop to improve the pathway for acute stroke care and beyond.

We are continuing to work with our ambulance service colleagues to make sure that every patient quickly gets to the best place for them and will be developing updated patient information with both experienced service users and staff in the coming months.