Rising demand leads to review of stroke units

People who suffer a stroke could have further to travel to hospital if health bosses decide to reduce the number of treatment units.

Plans are being drawn up to tackle a huge increase in demand for stroke services as part of a five-year plan for NHS and social care services.

Currently, hospitals in Bradford, Leeds, Calderdale, Harrogate and Wakefield each have a hyper-acute stroke unit, where people are looked after for the first 72 hours after a stroke.

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But the number of units could be reduced as part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), designed to tackle a funding gap of more than £1bn-a-year by 2021.

Health and social care organisations in 44 areas of England were told to draw up the controversial STP plans.

During the next few months the Express will be analysing the STP plan and revealing which services could be facing the axe.

The official STP document said: “We currently have five hyper-acute stroke units in West Yorkshire and we know that this is not sustainable for the future.”

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A separate report last June suggested that the hyper-acute stoke (HAS) units at Calderdale and Harrogate hospitals could be axed because they were not treating as many patients as the others.

Jo Webster, senior responsible officer for the STP, said the figures used in that report were now out of date and nothing had been decided.

But she added: “Demand is growing at about 12 per cent each year.

“With that level of growth we have the potential to find ourselves in a position where some services could be at risk in terms of being able to meet those demands.”

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Latest details of the stroke units plan were revealed in a report to the West Yorkshire joint health scrutiny committee.

The report said evidence showed it was safer to treat stroke patients in a smaller number of specialised units.

It said: “An ageing population, people living longer with complex health and social care needs, means we have to change if we want to improve people’s quality of life and meet the challenges we face together with the money we have available now and in the future.”