ACUTE CARE: Nearly half of Bolton’s stroke patients are still being admitted to their local hospital despite a service reconfiguration.

Changes implemented in March mean all new stroke cases in Greater Manchester should receive their initial treatment at one of three specialist “hyperacute centres” at Salford Royal Foundation Trust, Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust or Stockport FT. It is hoped the centralisation of services could save 50 lives a year.

Salford Royal Foundation Trust

New stroke patients are supposed to go to ‘hyperacute centres’ like the one at Salford Royal

District stroke units, such as the service run by Bolton FT at Royal Bolton Hospital, have remained open but their focus has shifted to rehabilitation and recovery.

However, minutes for the trust’s April board meeting, published with last month’s papers, highlighted issues with the new pathway.

They said: “The change in the stroke pathway has had some initial issues despite the new pathway, where all patients should have initial treatment at Salford Royal before repatriation to the trust, 40 per cent of patients are still being admitted direct to RBH.

“Board members asked if these issues had impacted on patient care or experience and were advised that as yet it is too early to tell.”

The Greater Manchester Stroke Board said there have not been similar problems reported by other hospitals in the network.

Board chair Alan Campbell said he had been told “a greater number of stroke patients than expected were presenting directly to RBH during the first month of the new pathway’s operation”.

He added: “The stroke board requested that clinicians and service managers from the hyperacute centre at Salford meet with colleagues from Bolton to understand and resolve these matters as soon as possible, with the support of the ambulance service where necessary.

Mr Campbell said GPs and out of hours services would be receiving further guidance about the new pathway.

He said no hospitals had withdrawn aspects of care following these changes, so the care at Bolton would have been “as accessible” as it was before the changes.

A Bolton FT spokeswoman said its stroke services would continue to run until the new pathway was established. She added: “If a stroke patient does present in Bolton, we contact Salford with regard to transferring them.”

When asked whether those still being admitted to Bolton included patients arriving by ambulance rather than presenting themselves, she said this was being investigated.