Reshaping Stroke Services in Northern Ireland
In 2017, Health and Social Care organisations in conjunction with stroke survivors, carers and charities undertook a pre-consultation process which included a series of engagements and meetings into how best to improve stroke care for patients in Northern Ireland.
A Task and Finish Group made up of Health and Social Care professionals, clinicians, stroke charities and stroke survivors listened carefully to the wide range of views and feedback following the pre-consultation. [wpfilebase tag=fileurl id=4692 linktext=’Click here to view the findings from the pre-consultation’ /]. This work was used to develop a series of proposals on the future of stroke services in Northern Ireland.
Building on that work, the Department of Health will launch a formal public consultation in March 2019.
Many of the potential improvements outlined by the 2017 Pre-Consultation have already been implemented.
- Health Improvement Teams in the Public Health Agency are working with local communities to deliver programmes directed at improving lifestyles and reducing the prevalence of cardiovascular disease.
- Irregular heartbeat eg Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke. This normally requires blood thinning medication to be prescribed and monitored. GP Federations and Integrated Care Partnerships are implementing changes to optimise the treatment of patients with known Atrial Fibrillation.
- The Northern Ireland Stroke Network is collaborating with Integrated care partnerships and Community Pharmacy to identify opportunities to improve the identification and management of high blood pressure.
- Transformation Funding has also enabled the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to implement a planned expansion in access to Mechanical Thrombectomy –a revolutionary clot removal procedure and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast is now one of the is leading centres on these islands.
- Community stroke teams have been expanded using Transformation Funding to provide Early Supported Discharge in all five Trusts to ensure patients are seen within 24 to 48 hours following discharge from hospital.
- The Northern Ireland Stroke Network is seeking to design a new streamlined regional pathway for support services following stroke. It is hoped this will assist stroke survivors in their ongoing stroke recovery and ensure that there is equity and consistency in access to services across the region.