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Pilot Project To Airlift Local NHS Trust Stroke Patients To Specialist Hospital

Monday 15th May 2023

(Image caption: Midlands Air Ambulance Charity at Royal Stoke Hospital. Photo credit: Nigel Harniman Photography)

A pilot project to airlift patients to a stroke centre for time-critical treatment has been launched at the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Telford.

Since February, five patients have been airlifted from PRH by Midlands Air Ambulance Charity to the hyper acute stroke centre at Royal Stoke University Hospital for a thrombectomy.

Travelling by air significantly reduces the time of transfer to Stoke, which can be lifesaving for those undergoing a thrombectomy. 

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs PRH, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) which runs Royal Stoke University Hospital, and West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) are collaborating on the project.

A mechanical thrombectomy is the radiological removal of a blood clot from the affected large blood vessel of the brain of acute stroke patients - only a certain number of patients fulfil the criteria for the treatment because a stroke has to be caught early.

Royal Stoke University Hospital was the first in the UK to provide a 24/7 mechanical thrombectomy service and UHNM has been at the forefront of pioneering the procedure nationally.

Hayley Flavell, director of Nursing at SaTH, said: “The number of patients being transferred may seem small, but this collaboration with our partners is making such a difference. Every minute counts with a thrombectomy and transportation by Midlands Air Ambulance Charity is so much quicker than a journey by road.”

Dr Meena Srinivasan, clinical director of Stroke Services at SaTH, said: “Time is of the essence with a thrombectomy and with these cases being transferred by air ambulance the patients are getting there more quickly than they would have done.”

Dr Mark Nash, medical director at Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and a senior anaesthetist at UHNM, said: “In addition to rapidly attending medical emergencies and major trauma, our pre-hospital emergency service also undertakes hospital transfers to provide patients with access to specialist treatment that may not be available at the initial receiving hospital.

“The thrombectomy transfers pilot project has already benefitted five patients from SaTH and we are proud to support the NHS with this vitally important service”

The project has been successfully running with Hereford County Hospital through Wye Valley NHS Trust since April last year and it has also been launched at University Hospital Coventry. Patients from those Trusts are being transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has undertaken 17 successful transfers since the service was launched with five of those from SaTH.

The initial request for the transfer comes through WMAS and then the wheels are put in motion. Transfers can take place seven days a week between 7am and 8pm.

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