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Better care for stroke patients at Basildon Hospital

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The care and treatment of stroke patients at Basildon University Hospital has improved significantly over the last three years, according to the latest figures from the National Stroke Strategy. And the Trust has already begun to use the additional  £1million investment, announced last month by health commissioners, to recruit more staff for stroke services and raise standards even higher.

During the second half of 2013, the care of stroke patients exceeded the required level for four out of five key standards:

·         Patients with suspected stroke who are scanned within an hour of arriving at hospital – 68 per cent, compared to 31 per cent in 2011

·         Patients receiving clot-busting medication, if appropriate, within three hours of arrival at hospital -13 per cent, compared to 4 per cent in 2011

·         Patients with transient ischaemic attack (mini stroke) not admitted but treated within 24 hours – 61 per cent, compared to 55 per cent in 2011

·         Time stroke patients admitted to hospital spend on a specialist stroke ward – 92 per cent, compared to 76 per cent in 2011.

The standard that the Trust did not meet at the end of 2013 relates to the time taken to settle the patient on the stroke unit once a decision has been made to admit them. The national standard requires that 90 per cent of patients should go to the stroke unit within four hours. The Trust achieved this for 80 per cent of patients, which is short of the target but a significant improvement since 2011, when just 41 per cent of patients were placed on the stroke unit within the time limit. Action has been taken to address the shortfall, including an improved triage and assessment system to help nurses identify patients arriving at A&E who are not showing obvious signs of stroke.

Last month Basildon and Brentwood CCG and Thurrock CCG announced they would make an additional £1 million investment for stroke services at Basildon Hospital to bring them up to the highest standards for patients. A long term decision on the organisation of stroke services in south Essex has yet to be made, but the extra funding will ensure patients receive high quality stroke care.

So far, the Trust has used some of the extra funding to extend consultant cover to seven days a week. Recruitment is underway for additional staff for the stroke service, including a consultant, six occupational therapists, six physiotherapists, a speech therapists and a psychological support worker. In addition, the Trust plans to take on an extra eight nurses to care for stroke patients, and is holding a special recruitment day on April 26.

Case study 

Stroke patients at Basildon Hospital also receive care and support from volunteers during their rehabilitation treatment. Michael Greenhow is one member of this valued team, who has personal experience of the devastating effects of stroke. Michael’s late wife Connie suffered a number of strokes in 2006 and spent six months on Lister Ward at Basildon Hospital, before returning home. He devoted himself to looking after her for seven years, with the help of carers, until she passed away last year.

Michael, aged 70, a retired retail manager who lives in Aveley, said: “After Connie died I gave it three months then I contacted the hospital about volunteering. I knew I wanted to work on the stroke ward.

“I am very pleased that I can make a difference and it is also helpful to me to come to Lister Ward. Connie was here for six months and the nurses and doctors who looked after my wife remember her and have made it very pleasurable to work here. Everyone tells me Connie would be proud of me. It is nice to see people get better and able to go home.

“I help patients at mealtimes, and speak to them and their relatives to reassure them. The nurses might ask me to keep a particular eye on someone who they know needs encouragment to drink more liquids. We work as a team; they have made me feel very welcome.”

After her strokes, Connie could not walk, eat or talk. She needed round the clock care which was supported by a team of carers during the day, with Michael taking sole responsibility at night, getting up every two hours to check her.

He added: “We had a very strong marriage and I know she would have done the same for me. I became friends with the carers, the district nurses and the staff at Basildon Hospital. If it wasn’t for them it would have been a struggle. Many of them came to Connie’s funeral and several said that I should go into caring.

Carol Burch, from Wickford, a patient on Lister Ward suffered a stroke caused by a bleed on her brain. Carol, who works in the marine claims department of a shipping company, said: “Michael is great carer; nothing is too much trouble. I don’t need so much help but some of the ladies on the ward do and he treats them like princesses.”

She added: “The rehab care I am having is intense and hard work, but brilliant.”


NOTES TO EDITORS: The National Stroke Strategy is an evidence-based document that sets out what constitutes a good stroke service.

It was developed in partnership with representatives from stroke charities, stroke professionals in the NHS, social care professionals and those affected by stroke.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 15:29

‘Unsung’ hospital services recognised for their efforts

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Staff who work behind the scenes to ensure that hospital services can run effectively and efficiently have been recognised in the latest Trust staff awards.

Mark Thomas, who works as a specialist technician in the Medical Equipment Management Service (MEMS), received the employee of the month accolade for staying on after his working day and into the early hours of the morning to repair and replace a theatre display system.

The MEMS Team look after the 18,500 pieces of patient equipment and 700 electronically controlled beds in the Trust. On this occasion, a system which transfers images from surgical scopes, cameras and patient monitoring to displays for surgeons and other theatre staff, had stopped working. Mark, who has worked in the MEMS team for more than 13 years, stayed on overnight  to ensure the system was up and running, and ready for an operation the following morning.

The Team of the month award was presented to the Clinical Coding Team for providing an effective service and making significant improvements despite staff shortages. This has included working longer days and at weekends to make sure the work gets done.

All healthcare procedures and treatments have an associated clinical code which is used to reimburse NHS organisations for the care and treatment they provide, and to help ensure high quality services.

Clinical coders are the people who translate what is written in patient notes into coded information. It is difficult to recruit qualified coders as the job is so specialised. It can take around two years to build up the basic knowledge needed, and training is ongoing as there are always new procedures and treatments being introduced.

Clare Panniker, Chief Executive, praised the staff award winners, saying: “Every member of Trust staff has an important role to play in providing high quality patient care. The ‘behind the scenes’ services, such as MEMS and coding, are often unsung but without their support the Trust could not function.”

Pictured L-R: Mark Thomas, Specialist MEMS Technician; Clare Panniker, Chief Executive; Susan Cullis, Clinical Coding Deputy Manager; Julie Reynolds, Clinical Coding Manager 

Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 14:05

Eggstra special treat for children in hospital

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Young patients received an eggstra special Easter treat when staff from ProMedical, a healthcare staffing solutions company, visited the children’s ward at Basildon Hospital. Kayleigh Forrow, ProMedical Head of Compliance, said: “We were keen to do something to cheer up children who need to be in hospital over the Easter holidays. At ProMedical we recognise the importance of reaching out to our community and are committed to do all we can to make a difference. The baskets we delivered, filled with chocolate eggs and treats, brought a smile to the children and certainly to me.” Jerusha Murdoch-Kelly, Paediatric Matron said: “It was very kind of the staff at ProMedical to spend their time putting together the Easter baskets. The children loved them.” 

 Note to editors: Ralph Frost is aged 4, and lives in Thurrock ProMedical is based in Brentwood.

Hospital porter shares his ‘Talent for Care’

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Local hospital porter, Steve Hartman, has been taking centre stage to highlight the importance of supporting the development of NHS staff.

‘The Talent for Care’ is the national strategy for the development of NHS staff working in lower paid roles (bands 1-4). Steve was chosen to help promote the programme as he was recognised as a good example of someone who uses a whole range of skills to make a different for patients.

Steve, who is profoundly deaf, explains: "I started work as a porter at Basildon Hospital six years ago to pay for the rest of a teaching degree. I noticed that the standard of deaf awareness was low, so I approached the Trust’s education department to see if there was an opportunity for me to teach sign language and deaf awareness. Since then, I have taught around 200 staff and can be called upon to interpret for deaf patients.

"As part of a consultation around the national ‘Talent for Care’ strategy I have been giving presentations to hundreds of NHS staff across the country. Although I am used to talking to small groups through my teaching, presenting to 200 people at a time was daunting.

"I spoke about my experience of being deaf and how I realised I could help to improve patient care in ways that were outside of my job role. I also shared my thoughts about how staff should be valued, supported and encouraged to think about the skills they can use to improve patient care, no matter what pay band they are on.

"The feedback I received was extremely positive, and I have now been approached by Health Education England to give talks to NHS staff across south east England."

Notes to editors

‘The Talent for Care’ is a national programme run by Health Education England. It is looking at the development of NHS staff working in jobs in the pay bands 1-4 (up to around £22,000 a year). This is in partnership with the NHS, trades unions, education institutions, staff and others.

Staff in pay bands 1-4 represent around 40% of the NHS workforce, and play a prominent role in ensuring a good experience of care. They are often the first people that patients see when they use healthcare services.

Steve gave presentations in London (ExCel), Birmingham (at the NEC) and Leeds (Elland Road football stadium). The other speakers included Christina McAnea, Unison National Secretary for Health; John Rogers, Chief Executive, Skills for Health and Stephen Welfare, National Lead Director for the Health Education England Bands 1-4 programme. The audience was a mix of NHS senior managers, HR directors, education and training specialists and bands 1-4 staff.

Hospital's new lifeline for patients

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Some of the important work to improve patient care in hospitals goes on behind the scenes, in places most people never see. A highly specialised £136,000 project in the basement of Basildon University Hospital has provided a better, more reliable oxygen supply for patients.

Oxygen is one of the most commonly used medicines in hospitals, particularly in emergencies. It may also be used for patients with respiratory conditions or for therapies, to relieve pain, for example. Last year, Basildon Hospital used 12 million litres of oxygen at a cost of £195,000.

Since January this year, expert contractors have been working to install a new 550 metre copper main pipe – the equivalent length of five football pitches end-to-end. It runs under the main corridor and connects two large oxygen tanks, holding a total of 78,000 litres of oxygen, at either end of the hospital site.

The main pipe is 76mm in diameter; nearly twice that of the old one. The larger size means that the hospital can now offer patients with certain types of respiratory failure more effective oxygen therapy.

The project has improved patient safety with the installation of 28 new valves to the oxygen main. This means that if a technical problem occurs in one area of the hospital, this can be isolated and the supply of oxygen can be maintained to all other wards. Back-up cylinders are used to ensure there is oxygen for patients in affected areas. And the new valve system allows oxygen from either main tank to be supplied to areas furthest away at opposite ends of the hospital.

The project was carried out according to strict specifications under the supervision of the hospital’s estates team. Because oxygen is a prescribed drug, it was also carefully checked by pharmacists to ensure purity. 

The existing copper pipe, much of it 40 years old, was removed and recycled to partly offset the cost of the upgrade. The valuable new pipes were delivered under strict security and put in place very quickly, to reduce the risk of theft.

David Bascombe, Senior Engineer at Basildon Hospital, said: “The whole project went like clockwork, with minimal disruption, thanks to the hard work of all the hospital staff and experts involved. It’s always a good feeling to complete complex work like this successfully, knowing that it has helped the hospital improve patient care.”

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