UNDER the government’s new health arrangements the Essex Clinical Commissioning Board has the responsibility to order, arrange and pay for stroke services across the county – including Thurrock.
Cllr Barbara Rice, Thurrock’s portfolio holder for Health and Adult Social Care, says she is very concerned about its latest decision to downgrade the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU) at Basildon.
She said: “At the moment all hospitals in Essex have HASUs, including an excellent unit at Basildon.
“HASUs are where ambulances take patients when they have stroke symptoms.”
Cllr Rice, herself a former senior nurse, said the first 48 hours treatment is vital as highlighted in the FAST advertising campaign. “HASUs can provide treatment such as thrombolysis – the clot-busting drug that needs to be given within three hours of the onset of symptoms.”
She said: “They are specialist units and provide rapid access to diagnostics.”
Acute Stroke units (ASU) take patients after this crucial two days until patients are ready for rehabilitation or discharge home.
Cllr Rice explained: “All hospitals currently have the HASU, however the stroke review suggests Broomfield and Southend keep them while Basildon is downgraded to an ASU.
“This will be subject to a consultation and I would ask that Thurrock residents make their views known.”
She said: “This is a double blow for Thurrock – we have been denied our long awaited Community Hospital in Hogg Lane, although I have asked the council to try one last time to get this decision turned around.”
At last week’s council cabinet meeting, council officers were instructed to write to the PCT asking that the Hogg Lane site be used for health provision as originally intended.
Cllr Rice said: “With the population growing so quickly and infrastructure expanding with the much-needed regeneration of our borough more health services will undoubtedly be needed.
“It is ironic that the government’s new health plans which are supposed to bring decisions on health services closer to users, could see our very successful Hyper Acute Stroke Unit at Basildon downgraded.”