New figures, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), has revealed that the majority of stroke patients are being directed to a specialist unit within four hours of being admitted to hospital.
The clinical commissioning group (CCG) Outcomes Indicator Set report found that 60 per cent of patients taken to hospital for a stroke in 2013-14 were given treatment at an acute stroke unit in the crucial first few hours after.
Although this is good news considering that specialist stroke units have only been in place for a few years, there is still much discrepancy, with concerns arising about a so-called 'postcode lottery'.
Of the 68,800 patients in England included in the survey, 84 per cent spent at least 90 per cent of their stay in a specialist unit. However, this varied widely depending on the clinical commissioning group (CCG) they came under.
For example, NHS Corby CCG had the lowest rate of stroke patients spending this proportion of their stay in a dedicated unit with just 66 per cent, while NHS Ealing CCG had the highest record with 95 per cent of patients.
However, for 71 of the 211 CCGs surveyed, less than 55 per cent of patients were admitted to a stroke unit after four hours of hospital admission, while 13 CCGs saw this rate drop below 40 per cent. None of the groups in England had more than 90 per cent of patients being sent to an acute stroke unit within this four-hour period.
HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said the report shows that the different elements of care for stroke patients vary widely between CCGs across England.
"It is important that patients suffering a stroke receive appropriate care as soon as possible. I'm sure health professionals and those responsible for delivering care for stroke patients will use this report to identify how improvements in treatment can be made, such as how quickly patients are admitted to a stroke unit. The other new indicators in the report on hip fracture and mental health will also be helpful to CCGs in forming their commissioning plans," he said.
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