Kent

Kent and Medway: High Court win for stroke service improvements

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Image caption Calls for a judicial review of changes to stroke services were dismissed by the High Court

The High Court has ruled in favour of the NHS in Kent and Medway to establish specialist stroke units.

The NHS had faced objections over plans to improve stroke services at Darent Valley, Maidstone and William Harvey Hospital.

Objectors claimed many will be left too far from a centre, including those in Thanet and Canterbury.

In a hearing held at the High Court a judge dismissed claims for a judicial review.

About 3,000 people suffer a stroke each year in Kent and are currently treated at one of six acute stroke units.

The changes will see improved services but at three hospitals - plans that were approved in February 2019.

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Image caption Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford is one of the options being considered for a hyper-acute stroke unit

Rachel Jones, senior responsible officer for the Stroke Review said: "We are extremely pleased that the judge's ruling means that we can improve stroke care and outcomes for local people.

"Our review of urgent stroke services, which started back in late 2014, has always been about providing the highest quality stroke care for patients and certainty for our hard-working staff.

"Evidence from other parts of the country, and from around the world, shows that this new way of providing stroke care reduces death and disability from stroke. Our focus now will be on implementing the new stroke units as soon as possible so we can deliver much-needed improvements.

Carly Jeffrey, from Save Our NHS in Kent, said people in Thanet would have their trip to a stroke centre increased 500%, from 10 minutes to an hour.

She said: "We will be calling for effective measures to be put in place so that we can see a true picture of the before and after impact of these plans being implemented.

"We are devastated by the result and what it means for our residents and our hospital."

In the meantime the NHS says it will work on developing a timeline for implementing the new hyper acute stroke units.

Further information on likely go-live dates will be published after the outcome of a Secretary of State referral.

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