Removal of Scarborough's stroke unit: Sir Alan Ayckbourn asks why MP isn't 'kicking up a fuss' about it

Award-winning playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn has waded into a row over emergency stroke services leaving Scarborough Hospital.

Thursday, 18th June 2020, 7:30 am

Sir Alan has written to Scarborough’s MP Robert Goodwill sharing his experience of suffering a stroke in 2006 and asking why he is not “kicking up a fuss” about the issue.

In the letter, he says he has been “appalled” at the removal of emergency stroke treatment from his local hospital.

“It is monstrous that a once highly regarded stroke unit is quietly removed without due consultation or concern for the public it serves,” he writes.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn

He also gives detail of the treatment he received when he had a stroke.

“I was within 15 minutes of Scarborough Hospital which meant I arrived during that magic first hour.

“I benefited from the use of immediate intravenous thrombolysis.

“Consequently, I was not as seriously impaired as I might have been if I had had to be driven to York – I would have been well past the ‘golden’ hour.

"When I was ill, my wife was able to visit me twice a day. Impossible if I had been at York, Hull or Middlesbrough.

“Given the average age of a Scarborough resident is older rather than younger, how will any relative or close friend manage the travelling? Or the cost.”

Stroke services at Scarborough Hospital changed in 2015 and stroke patients who arrived at Scarborough A&E started being transferred to the hyper-acute stroke unit at York Hospital.

But, as of last month, local stroke patients are going straight to the nearest specialist unit at York, Hull or Middlesborough – bypassing Scarborough.

A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said the move was made because of staffing issues.

“This is a temporary change to enable us to ensure the safest care for patients within the constraints of the staffing resources we have available, and to allow The Humber, Coast and Vale Stroke Network to consider how the service could be delivered in the longer term and what a sustainable solution may be for the future,” he said.

Follow-up clinics for stroke patients remain at Scarborough Hospital, which still has a stroke rehabilitation ward.

Mr Goodwill said he is satisfied that stroke patients should go straight to an acute stroke centre which has more specialist expertise.

“Firstly you need paramedics to get there and administer the treatment that they can where you are,” he said.

“Secondly, you need to be taken to an acute stroke unit.”

He stressed follow-up care must be at Scarborough Hospital.

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