Basildon University Hospital's Hyper Acute Stroke Unit is among the best performing in the East of England according to official statistics released this week.
The Royal College of Physicians data shows that patients treated for stroke at Basildon Hospital, receive rapid access to the best available drugs; have a better chance of surviving and are more likely to return home than go into care.
The hospital's stroke service – which covers South Essex – also provides some of the best physiotherapy and occupational therapy services across the sector which improves the chances of patients retaining their independence after suffering a stroke.
Patients also benefit from rapid access to scanning equipment which helps doctors establish how best to manage their stroke, improving outcomes.
A key indicator for a successful stroke services is access to thromboloysis, a clot busting drug which if administered rapidly, can improve – and save – lives.
Basildon Hospital is the second best performing hospital in the East of England, behind Colchester, when it comes to thromobolysing patients, according to the Stroke Service National Audit Programme (SSNAP) data which assesses 44 key indicators.
Meanwhile, more than nine out of ten patients who are treated at Basildon Hospital survive their stroke – above the national average.
The hospital is one of only a few across the sector which provides the same high quality stroke service – with access to consultants, nurses and therapists – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Dr Ravi Rangasamy, clinical lead for stroke medicine at Basildon University Hospital, said: "This is really encouraging news for stroke patients who come to Basildon Hospital.
"They, and their families, can have confidence that if they are unfortunate enough to suffer a stroke, they will be getting some of the very best care the NHS has to offer."
Earlier this year Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Thurrock CCG made an additional £1 million investment for stroke services at Basildon.
Basildon Hospital has used some of the extra funding to extend consultant cover to seven days a week, increase the number of beds on the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit to ten; recruit an additional consultant taking the total number to five; recruit a dietician; additional nurses, a clinical psychologist and additional therapists.
Tom Abell, chief officer at Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: "Improving the care of stroke patients within Basildon and Brentwood is one of our key priorities. It's incredibly encouraging that the extra investment that we, together with Thurrock CCG, have put into local stroke services has helped to transform outcomes for patients with more lives being saved and more patients being given the intensive support needed to make a better recovery."
Case study: Patricia Barnes
When Patricia Barnes set off for Lakeside on Tuesday last week (October) 14, it wasn't going to be the shopping trip she had bargained for.
After leaving her home in Orsett Village, other motorists saw her car 'zig-zagging' inexplicably across Stifford Clays Road.
Mrs Barnes only recalls hearing a bang and her car's airbags exploding in her face. The blue flashing lights she soon saw told her that the police and paramedics had arrived on the scene.
She had suffered a stroke. Time was now of the essence.
Two million neurons are lost in your brain every minute after a stroke. Rapid access to thromboloysis, a clot busting drug, is crucial as it dramatically improves outcomes and saves lives.
Mrs Barnes was rushed to Basildon University Hospital's hyper-acute stroke unit where she received the crucial treatment. Just 48 hours later she was sitting up in her hospital bed, sharing a joke with her close family.
"It was Tuesday evening and I decided I would go to Lakeside," recalls Mrs Barnes, a mother of two who has lived in Orsett since 1978. "I wasn't aware of feeling unwell or giddy but all I remember is a bit of a bang – I thought I had hit the curb.
"I really didn't know what had happened until somebody opened the door and the emergency services arrived. Somebody said I had hit a parked car and my speech was slurred. They assessed me in the ambulance and brought me to Basildon Hospital.
"They explained that if you catch a stroke early it improves your chances - it's all about time.
"When I first came to hospital my leg and my arm felt like a lead weight and I thought I might not be able to use them again. I've been here 48 hours and I'm now able to move both of them.
"I was lucky to be so near to Basildon because it meant I got the drug I needed quickly. The care here has been fantastic."
Photo (L-R): Dr Ravi Rangasamy, clinical lead for stroke medicine at Basildon University Hospital; Patricia Barnes; Jacqueline Lim, senior ward sister