Stroke patients in Bridlington will have to travel more than an hour to York for treatment starting in July.
It comes due to challenges with recruiting replacements for stroke consultants currently working at the hospital, who are due to retire in the summer. Despite a number of attempts to find replacements since 2013, only one consultant has recently been recruited. This means that a hyper-acute stroke service cannot be provided due to the need for seven day per week consultant cover, leading to Bridlington patients having to travel 68 minutes to York.
Mike Proctor, Deputy Chief Executive at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We will continue to try and recruit additional stroke consultants, however, until we are successful this measure will have to remain in place. We fully appreciate that patients want to receive care as close to home as possible, but maintaining patient safety has to be the number one priority in order to guarantee the best possible outcome for stroke patients.”
Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
Patients who suffer a stroke in the Scarborough and Bridlington area will be transported by ambulance to York Hospital to receive specialist acute care. Patients from Bridlington will be taken to Scarborough Hospital first be taken there for assessment and, if stroke is confirmed, given clot busting drugs (thrombolysis) before being transferred to York. Patients within an appropriate distance of York Hospital will be taken there directly for thrombolysis and subsequent treatment.
Specialist acute stroke care is typically needed for around 72 hours after a stroke has been confirmed. Once medically stable, patients will be transferred back to Scarborough Hospital to receive the appropriate level of rehabilitation.
The changes will see Waters Ward in Bridlington, now used as the Stroke Rehab Ward, change use with general rehabilitation being grouped together in Johnson Ward.
This move has been criticised by Unite the Union officer Terry Cunliffe. He said: “Bridlington Hospital is a shadow of its former self. We are losing valuable services to the community and they are not being replaced with other services and are being left vacated.
“The CCG are not doing enough to support the patients. There should be regular meetings between the CCG, staff and patients to find out what everyone wants but instead decisions are being made by York Trust without any interference to save money.”
Flamborough Parish councillor and member of Bridlington Health Forum May Sexton said: “The “Trust” is saying it is unable to recruit two consultants and the CCG (‘Clinical Commissioning Group) is supporting the decision, it seems the main reason could be a way of saving money.
It was understood that the introduction of the Clinical Commissioning Groups was to give a voice to the local community in giving it a say as to what it wanted in the provision of its hospital services, also to help in keeping its services ‘localised’.
“Bridlington Hospital is being abused and misused solely to appease the ‘Trust’ which does not seem to see any problems it causes through the shifting of services, at a time when distance and travelling can add to further distress.”