Planned temporary emergency changes to Medway NHS Foundation Trust acute stroke service

Date: 15 June 2020

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All stroke services across Kent and Medway face some level of challenge recruiting and retaining specialist stroke staff. Until this point, Medway NHS Foundation Trust has successfully retained sufficient numbers of specialist staff to deliver safe care for stroke patients. However, by the end of June 2020, the number of stroke specialist nurses at Medway Maritime Hospital will reduce to one due to staff leaving the service. Specialist stroke nurses are responsible for the initial assessment of stroke patients, alongside specialist doctors, and for administering vital clot-busting drugs.

The loss of these specialist nurses will make it impossible to maintain the necessary quality of stroke service at Medway Maritime Hospital, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite the Trust’s best efforts, it has not been able to recruit new appropriately trained and qualified specialist nursing staff to fill the soon to be vacant posts.

As a result, Medway NHS Foundation Trust and the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are planning an emergency temporary transfer of acute (urgent) stroke services out of Medway Hospital. The plan sets out that from 1 July 2020 suspected stroke patients from Medway and Swale would be taken by blue light ambulance directly to Maidstone Hospital or Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford (the majority will go to Maidstone). This emergency transfer of services will ensure the NHS can maintain ongoing safe and high-quality care of patients during the vital initial hours and days following a stroke.

This urgent decision has been taken without the usual required formal consultation with patients, public and stakeholders, because it is the view of our stroke clinicians, the GP-led CCG, and the clinically led Kent and Medway Stroke Network that there is a risk to the quality of care for patients if the stroke service continues at Medway after the end of June.

This change is separate to the wider plans to improve stroke services in Kent and Medway with the implementation of hyper acute stroke units.

The NHS in Kent and Medway will be engaging with patients, carers, patient groups, and stakeholders over the coming weeks to clarify the reason for the proposed move and update on current and future plans.

A paper (attached here) outlining the plan has been submitted to the Medway Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body will be asked to endorse the proposal at their meeting on 25 June.


  • Summary:

    Medway NHS Foundation Trust and the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are planning an emergency temporary transfer of acute (urgent) stroke services out of Medway Hospital.