From late September we will be making some temporary changes to our stroke services.

We currently operate two stroke wards, which provide acute stroke care and stroke rehabilitation, at both Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals. As a result of recruitment challenges to our Thrombolysis service and high levels of specialist nursing vacancies on our stroke ward at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, we will be consolidating our stroke services on one site and moving our stroke ward at Tunbridge Wells Hospital to Maidstone Hospital.  This move will ensure we can continue to deliver high quality and safe stroke care for patients.

What does this mean for patients?

The temporary changes are being introduced so that we can maintain a safe service for our patients. We anticipate up to an additional three stroke patients per day will be cared for at Maidstone instead of Tunbridge Wells Hospital as a result of the move.

The change will mean patients in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas will be transferred directly to Maidstone Hospital, if a stroke is suspected. Ambulances transporting suspected stroke patients are already being diverted during the night and increasingly during the day to Maidstone Hospital.

For patients self-presenting to our emergency department at Tunbridge Wells Hospital with a suspected stroke, we will have clinical protocols in place to assess them and provide an accurate diagnosis. If a stroke is suspected, the patient will receive initial treatment before being transferred by ambulance to the Maidstone stroke ward.

The consolidated service at Maidstone Hospital comprises acute and rehabilitation beds and will care for all stroke patients in our catchment area.

This move will allow us to continue to deliver a high quality and safe patient experience by ensuring we have a high quality and consistent level of staff, in one place, caring for our patients. It will also allow us to make further improvements to the care we give our patients.

While the changes are temporary, it is unlikely the decision will be reversed before the configuration of stroke services in Kent and Medway. You can find out more about the Kent and Medway Stroke Review here https://kentandmedway.nhs.uk/stroke/

We will be talking to patients, carers and other groups over the coming weeks about the temporary move and our plans.