• Stroke services currently provided on two sites
  • Previous review halted because of concerns about impact on other units
  • Public consultation likely next year

Stroke services in West Sussex could be reorganised – two years after plans were halted because of fears they would impact on other hospitals outside the county.

NHS England has told Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group that it needs to revisit creating a hyper-acute stroke unit in the area. In a joint letter with NHS Improvement in the summer, it said both provider and commissioners needed to reach agreement on centralisation of services on one site without further delay, according to board minutes.

The CCG has now appointed a programme lead for stroke and is likely to go to public consultation on any plans early next year, with the possibility of a single site hyper-acute unit being set up by 2020.

The two hospitals which currently provide stroke services – in Worthing and Chichester – have 24/7 thrombolysis and stroke nurses present on each site. Worthing was given an A rating in the most recent national stroke audit and Chichester a B – and both have seen their ratings improve over the last three years.

A review of stroke services across the county started in 2014 but a proposal to centralise services in the west of the county was “paused” in 2016 due to concerns about the readiness of other providers to accept additional patients.

During the last review Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust, which runs St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and Worthing Hospital – had argued that its service should remain on both sites despite the region’s clinical senate recommending centralisation.

If services were centralised on one site, some patients would potentially go to either Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust – which has centralised its own services at Brighton – or to Portsmouth Hospitals Trust.