Proposals to change the way hospital stroke services are organised and delivered in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire will be put to the public from 7 June, after the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) today (1 June) made the decision to progress to public consultation.

The proposals for change – put together by a diverse range of people, including senior clinicians, staff and stroke survivors – are designed to ensure fewer stroke deaths every year and improve long-term health outcomes. Around 5 people a day experience a stroke in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, and 1 in 50 of the total population live with the condition’s long-term impacts.

Drawing on the latest national clinical evidence, proposed changes include the creation of a single ‘Hyper-acute Stroke Unit’ at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital, bringing the area’s clinical expertise and specialist resources into one ‘centre of excellence’ as currently exists for heart care and major trauma.

Anyone in the area who experiences a stroke would be taken straight to Southmead Hospital by ambulance for emergency stroke care, rather than to their nearest hospital as is currently the case.

Travel analysis completed as part of the design phase shows Southmead as reachable from Bristol, North Somerset and south Gloucestershire locations within 45 minutes by ambulance, with 7 in 10 people just 30 minutes away.

Dr Chris Burton, Clinical Lead for the programme, said:

“We want everyone to have the best possible opportunity to survive and thrive after stroke, which is why we’re excited to test these proposals with the public.

“At the moment, people’s outcomes and experience vary depending on where they live and the time of day or night they have a stroke. Our proposals are designed to change that and ensure consistently high-quality emergency care for everyone – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Clinical evidence and service change examples from across the country show that when you bring specialist staff, equipment and resources together into a single centre like this, deaths are prevented and people’s long term outcomes are improved.

“We really want to hear what people think, and encourage everyone to have their say on the proposals during the consultation period.”

Key changes are also being proposed to ongoing hospital care after the emergency treatment phase, and inpatient rehabilitation support. For patients requiring further hospital care, the preferred option is for a single specialist stroke unit at Southmead, although the option of an additional smaller unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary has also been put forward.

Proposed changes to inpatient rehabilitation services would see two specialist units provided – one on the Weston General Hospital site in North Somerset, and another in either Bristol or South Gloucestershire.

Dr Jon Hayes, Clinical Chair of the CCG, said:

“Stroke touches so many lives, so it’s great to be at the point of consulting with the public on changes designed to improve care and outcomes.

“This is the culmination of a huge amount of work, and I’d like to thank everyone involved to date – particularly the stroke survivors who have contributed their time so generously in shaping the proposals.

“We want to hear from as many people across the area as possible, and there will be a range of events taking place during the consultation period, with full details on how you can have your say.”

The consultation opens at 9am on Monday 7 June and is planned to run for 13 weeks, closing at 12pm on Friday 3 September. All the consultation information will be hosted on the stroke services pages.