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Pilot using video assessment to fast-track stroke care

A new rapid-assessment scheme that enables ambulance crews to take stroke patients straight to specialist care is being piloted in Hertfordshire.

The pilot is being run by West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in partnership with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

“West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals was the first trust in the region to have adopted a nurse-led approach”

Karyn Butchard

Using video technology, ambulance crews work together with a stroke specialist at Watford General Hospital to carry out a joint assessment of a suspected stroke patient.

Based on this clinical video assessment the patient can then be taken straight to the right kind of specialist care.

This kind of rapid joint assessment is designed to reduce treatment times for time-critical stroke conditions and ensure that patients are transferred to the right specialist hospital unit.

Lead stroke nurse specialist at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals and clinical lead for the project, Karyn Butchard, said: “Following the video assessment, if a stroke is suspected, the patient is met on arrival at the emergency department by the stroke team and taken directly to CT scanning – sometimes being scanned within minutes of arrival.”

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Ms Butchard added: “West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals was the first trust in the region to have adopted a nurse-led approach where skilled stroke nurse specialists triage and facilitate the prompt imaging and further assessments for patients on arrival.”

More than 20 patients have benefited from rapid stroke assessment in Hertfordshire since the pilot scheme was launched in December 2023.

Andrew Larby, clinical lead for stroke video triage at East of England Ambulance Service, said: “We know the sooner patients receive hyper acute stroke treatment, the better their likely outcome.

“The video assessment system is a fantastic innovation, harnessing technology already available to us to enable stroke specialists to see patients remotely, before arriving at hospital.”

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