The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has launched a public consultation on reshaping stroke services with the aim of reducing mortality and disability associated with stroke.
The primary proposal is the development of specialised 'Hyperacute stroke units', which offer round-the-clock access to rapid diagnosis and advanced treatments. With the proposed network of stroke units, patients are expected to receive access to the best possible care in regional centres of excellence, regardless of the location of their residence and the admission time. The utilisation of thrombolysis is expected to improve with this.
The consultation also supports increased access to thrombectomy, which is currently available at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, on weekdays over limited hours. The 'Hyperacute stroke unit' model could allow expansion of thrombectomy services to 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Other proposals outlined in the consultation include planned improvements in the management of transient ischaemic attacks and community-based stroke care and extension of the 'Helicopter Emergency Medical Service' air ambulance to cater patients with stroke and other conditions in rural areas of Northern Ireland.