Hospital bosses in charge of the proposed merger between Burton and Derby hospital trusts have explained the decision to move stroke services away from Queen's Hospital and into the Royal Derby Hospital.

Plans that will merge Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have revealed that one of the only services that will be lost at Burton will be initial care for patients suffering from a stroke.

Magnus Harrison, the medical director of the Burton trust revealed that last year, around 300 stroke cases were handled at Queen's Hospital, on Belvedere Road, representing half of the ideal national guideline for hospital stroke services, sitting at around 600 cases.

Mr Harrison said: "Stroke services are an interesting one. Nationally, it is recognised that you need a minimum of 450 confirmed cases of strokes a year to run a stroke service, and ideally somewhere north of 600 to run a proper stroke service.

"In Burton last year we had 300 confirmed strokes, so we're nowhere near the national guidelines, so the commissioning intentions are well found.

"Stroke at the moment is the only service we're seeking to move from Burton to Derby and it'll be the hyper acute phase, so the first 72 hours of care, then we will ideally repatriate patients back into Burton or back in the community hospitals for rehabilitation."

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Dr Magnus Harrison - Medical Director, Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Magnus Harrison - Medical Director, Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The detail was revealed at an open meeting at the Royal Derby Hospital on Tuesday, October 24, where bosses were keen to stress that it was only the initial care for strokes that would be handled at the department in Derby.

Derby has a hyper-acute stroke unit, which houses experts and equipment able to provide treatment for 24 hours, which is not currently available at the Burton site.

Initial care is for the first three days after suffering a stroke, which will be handled at the Royal Derby Hospital, where patients will then be transferred back to either Burton, Lichfield or Tamworth hospitals.

Mr Harrison said the higher number of dedicated stroke consultants at Derby, compared to Burton, would help improve the quality of care provided.

He said: "Beyond that we have two stroke consultants working in Burton who also double up as care of the elderly consultants, and are part of the general on-call system, so they wear a number of hats.

"Derby have a plethora of stroke consultants, their service is excellent."

The Burton and Derby hospital trusts merger so far

Final planning for the proposed merger is still being finalised and should be submitted and reviewed by the end of the year.

Earlier this year, in June, it was announced at a Healthwatch meeting that the outline business case for the partnership of the organisations, with a recommendation to merge, had been approved.

Fears have been raised by many, particularly in Burton, that the hospital could lose services, including the accident and emergency department.

Concerns were raised that the A&E department at Queen’s Hospital could be downgraded to an urgent care centre, meaning it would not operate 24-7. The Burton Mail, as well as the town’s MP Andrew Griffiths, joined the fight to keep it open.

At the Healthwatch meeting it was confirmed by bosses from both respective trusts, Helen Scott-South from Burton and Gavin Boyle from Derby, that the A&E department would not close.

A new trust will be formed, should the current plans go ahead, under a new combined title. The chairman will be John Rivers, the current chairman of both Derby and Burton trusts, and chief executive of Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Gavin Boyle will take up the same role at the new trust.

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