Campaigners' anger at 'cuts' to stroke services for Warwick and Rugby patients

Campaigners are arguing that proposals to remove stroke services from Warwick Hospital and have them based at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire would be 'cuts' and not 'improvements'.

Warwick Hospital

The plans, under the Coventry and Warwickshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) - which covers £267 million of savings to NHS spending across the city and county over the next five years - would mean that stroke patients in the Warwick area and also in Rugby and Nuneaton would now be treated at a specialist acute centre at Coventry where there is already a hyper acute unit.

Rehabilitation beds would be provided at the Leamington Rehabilitation Hospital for South Warwickshire, Coventry and Rugby patients.

The plan has been put together by clinical commissioning groups (CCG) across Warwickshire and Coventry.

Dr David Spragett, a GP and the chairman of the NHS South Warwickshire CCG, said: “This proposal is first and foremost about saving lives.

“Evidence shows that patients are more likely to survive and have the best chance of recovering the greatest level of independence after a stroke if treated in a specialist centre.

“Nationally, there is a shortage of specialist stroke doctors and nurses.

“This means that it is very important to make best use of the specialists’ skills by concentrating them at central points.

“The proposals will require investment in the improved and new services, including investment in early supported discharge (and community stroke rehabilitation services). There is national evidence that making these improvements not only significantly improves outcomes for those who suffer a stroke, but also reduces the cost of social care as fewer people will need ongoing support due to disability.”

The South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public (SWKONP) group is angry about the proposals and concerned that the “already overcrowded” university hospital will cope.

Prof Anna Pollert, the group’s chairwoman said: “Reading past the flannel about ‘improvement’, the plans boil down to Warwick Hospital losing 12 acute stroke beds, and George Eliot Hospital losing 18 acute stroke beds – a total loss of 30. These losses are not being made up at UHCW, which will increase its current 30 acute stroke beds by just one, to 31.

“Leamington Rehabilitation Hospital’s inpatient beds will go down from 20 to 19, and George Eliot’s lost acute beds will be replaced by rehab, with six beds increasing to 20.

“The loss of acute stroke care across Warwickshire means people will have to travel further to visit those recovering in hospital.

“The CCG’s answer? ‘We may provide a leaflet about transport options you can choose’. This is a joke.”

Patients can have their say on the plans by visiting between now and the July 16 deadline.