A grandmother of 11 was on her way to a full recovery and able to leave hospital just three days after she suffered a stroke, thanks to the fast actions of her sister and specialist stroke staff at Basildon University Hospital.
Gillian Longman, 60, was at home with husband Dennis and sister Chris when her speech suddenly became slurred. Chris noticed that one side of her mouth was drooping, and recognised the symptoms as a possible stroke from the FAST campaign. She had seen television advertisements highlighting the key points Face, Arm, Speech, and Time, and immediately dialled 999. The paramedics arrived within five minutes.
Gillian, who lives in Pitsea, said: “I was very frightened, especially when I realised I couldn’t walk; I felt like jelly. But when I heard people talking about stroke, I kept saying, ‘no, it can’t be.’ I had felt completely fine all day before it happened.”
Gillian arrived at Basildon Hospital’s A&E department at 10.40pm on 24 January, and was assessed five minutes later by a specialist stroke nurse. She then had a CT scan, which showed that her stroke was caused by clot on the brain and she was given a ‘clot-busting’ drug, known as thrombolysis, that aims to break up the clot and return normal blood supply to the brain.
Until she suffered a stroke, Gillian had led an active life, helping to care for some of her grandchildren and walking her three dogs. She also works at a supermarket in Pitsea, although she is currently on sick leave recovering from a broken hip.
She added: “I remember there were so many staff around me, and them explaining about the clot-busting drugs. All I could think of was my grandchildren, and how I didn’t want them to see me like this, so I said ‘go for it.’”
Gillian says that she began to feel better within an hour of receiving thrombolysis. She was moved to the hyper acute stroke unit for hourly monitoring, then to the acute stroke unit.
She added: “The care has been brilliant; I can’t fault anyone, if you need them, they come. I had my three children in Basildon hospital and came here when I broke my hip last year, so I knew I would be fine here.”
Basildon Hospital’s hyper acute stroke unit is among the best performing in the East of England according to data from the Royal College of Physicians. Patients receive rapid access to scanning equipment and the best available drugs, have a better chance of surviving and are more likely to return home than go into care.
The hospital’s stroke service, covering south Essex, also provides some of the best physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, helping patients retain their independence after suffering a stroke.
Last year Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Thurrock CCG made an additional Â£1 million investment in stroke services at Basildon.
Basildon Hospital has used some of the extra funding to extend consultant cover to seven days a week, increase the number of beds on the hyper acute stroke unit and recruit additional staff including a consultant, a dietician, a clinical psychologist and additional nurses and therapists.
The hospital is one of only a few in east England that provides access to specialist stroke consultants, nurses and therapists 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Dr Ravi Rangasamy, clinical lead for stroke medicine at Basildon University Hospital, said: “We are delighted that Gillian has made such a good recovery so quickly after her stroke.
“This is a very clear illustration of how important rapid assessment and thrombolysis treatment is for patients who have suffered stroke due to a blood clot, and we are very pleased that our specialist team at this hospital can offer such a high quality stroke service.”