Critically-ill stroke patients in the district will be taken to hospital in Leeds or York as part of plans to close Harrogate’s acute stroke unit from next year.
The plans, which have the support of North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, are part of an initiative to ‘urgently’ address inequalities in stroke care dependent on where patients live.
The idea is that all patients will be seen by a specialist centre in the critical first 72 hours after falling ill.
In a joint statement Dr David Scullion, Medical Director at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, and Dr Bruce Willoughby, GP Governing Body Member at NHS Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Evidence shows that people who receive care in hyper acute stroke units that see a minimum of 600 new admissions per year are likely to have better outcomes, even if the initial travel time is increased.
"The stroke unit at Harrogate District Hospital does not meet this threshold, nor is it ever likely to.
“Ensuring the continued sustainable provision of high quality patient care is the single focus of both the CCG and the Trust, and the regional partnership project with whom we have been closely engaged to ensure the future of safe and timely hyper acute stroke care.
"Under the proposals, patients requiring hyper acute stroke care will be taken directly by ambulance to a larger hyper acute stroke unit in order to ensure that the treatment they receive is both timely and effective. It is likely that this will be either Leeds or York.”
But stroke services at Harrogate District Hospital will not completely close, and after patients have received care at a hyper acute unit outside of the district, they will return to the town for their follow-up treatment.
Dr David Scullion and Dr Bruce Willoughby added: “Patients will be transferred back to Harrogate District Hospital as soon as possible after initial treatments or discharged home and will receive their ongoing rehabilitation care locally.
“To help inform the way forward, over the past two years extensive public engagement with more than 2,000 people has taken place including with people who have had a stroke, and their carers.
“Our next steps will be informed by further discussions with North Yorkshire County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and our NHS partners.”
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