Region’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital ranks in the country’s top 10 stroke units

Clinical staff from The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn are celebrating after being ranked one of the top 10 stroke units in the country.

West Raynham Ward is the sixth best performing stroke unit in the country for its treatment and performance rates.
The unit has once again received an A rating from the Royal College of Physicians as part of its Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme, which is an assessment of several key treatment areas.

Patients who are suspected of having a stroke are seen within two minutes of arriving at the hospital and receive vital thrombolysis treatment within 40 minutes, which helps patients to regain independence and mobility after a stroke if it is given early enough.

Stroke Consultant and Acting Medical Director Dr Raj Shekhar and Ward Manager Tania Martins Henriques Afonso have put the success down to the unit’s dedicated team of doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff.

Dr Shekhar said: “We are delighted with the ranking as it is a demonstration of the hard work put in by the staff on West Raynham along with reflecting the excellent team working arrangements with the paramedics, along with colleagues in A&E and Radiology.
“This rating also reflects our determination to ensure that we see and treat patients early to improve their outcomes and help them to go onto live independently.”

West Raynham has undergone significant improvements over the last four years which has seen it rise from the lowest E rating to the highest, A. The ward works closely with East of England Ambulance Service paramedics, who run an early alert system by warning the on-call stroke nurse to ensure they are awaiting the patient in A&E. Senior consultants and staff nurses are also available seven days a week to ensure that patients receive the right treatments.

Ward Manager Sister Afonso said: “We also work closely with a data analyst to ensure that we have up-to-date information.
“This is a fantastic achievement and I want to say a big thank you to everyone in the unit for their hard work.”

The ward has also undergone a makeover in recent years to create a new atmosphere for staff and patients with the addition of a day room, reception and two meeting rooms to offer greater privacy. Colour-coded bays have been introduced to help reduce the disorientation for patients along with symbols on signs.

The stroke team is also working with West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group to run the first clinic in the region to help prevent people from suffering strokes.

Research has shown that some people who have an irregular or fast heart rate can go on to suffer a stroke so atrial fibrillation (AF) clinics have been running for the last three months.

Eastern Academic Health Science Network is also supporting the clinics by providing innovative mobile ECG devices to detect AF, as part of a wider regional programme.

Dr Shekhar added: “Patients place their fingertips on the equipment pads which then provides us with their heart rate readings. We have found this equipment to be really useful.
“The AF clinics are working really well and we hope it will make a difference to patients. So far we have changed the treatment of 90% of the patients we have seen so far.”

John Webster, Accountable Officer for West Norfolk CCG, said: “This top rating for the QEH’s stroke unit is great news, and testament to the staff’s hard work and innovation. The CCG, QEH, and three GP practices – Vida Healthcare, Southgates Medical and Surgical Centre, and St James’ Medical Practice – have worked together on the atrial fibrillation clinics. It’s a new approach and it’s already benefitting local people: patients are being seen, and treated, faster.”

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