ACUTE: Hyperacute stroke services for the Durham and Darlington area should be centralised at the University Hospital of North Durham, County Durham and Darlington PCTs’ joint board has decided.

The decision will mean that Darlington Memorial Hospital will no longer offer hyperacute services for suspected stroke victims who will instead have to travel to Durham - but will be admitted directly to the stroke unit, without having to go through A&E.

The PCTs board heard that an original plan to provide 24/7 services in both sites had not been sustainable, partly because of a shortage of specialist doctors. A minimum of six was needed to run two units but only two full-time and two part-time doctors were available, with some locums. This had led to delays in treatment and assessment times.

The PCTs went out to consultation on centralising the service earlier this year after a working group had looked at the options available and recommended a one-site service. 

The decision to chose the Durham hospital was based on the number of people seen at each site and the availability of diagnostic facilities. Board chair Lady Ann Calman said it had followed ‘best practice’ in its consultation. It will now work on implementation with |County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust.