“Health bosses say the move will benefit patients, who will be able to access more ‘joined-up’ care, 24-hour medical cover and a range of specialist staff.
But it presents a further blow to Ottery’s community-funded hospital – that has hosted eastern Devon’s stroke unit on a temporary basis since November 2014 – following the decision to cuts all of the town’s inpatient beds in July 2015.
The move back to the RD&E is the final stage in completing recommendations from a 2013 consultation led by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Stroke Association.
RD&E stroke consultant Martin James said: “Moving the stroke rehabilitation unit onto the same site as our acute stroke unit is a key part of plans to improve stroke services for all people in Exeter and eastern Devon.
“The move will see a range of specialists – including nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, and speech and language therapists – working closely together to provide seamless care for people with stroke. Patients will benefit from greater continuity in care and 24-hour medical cover on site and staff will form part of a bigger specialist team, with increased opportunities to develop skills and gain input from a range of stroke specialists.”
The stroke rehabilitation facility will be transferred to the RD&E’s Yealm Ward and hospital rehabilitation services currently sited there are due to relocate into the community as part of a move towards caring for people in their own homes.
The RD&E NHS Foundation Trust says this is part of efforts to improve outcomes for frail and older people by reducing reliance on inpatient hospital care which, it says, can impact negatively on people’s rehabilitation.
In addition to the new facility on Yealm Ward, stroke patients will continue to benefit from the ‘Early Supported Discharge (ESD)’ initiative across eastern Devon.
This service enables people to return home as soon as possible after a stroke by providing support, specialist care and rehabilitation in patients’ own houses.
The trust says evidence shows that patients who receive ESD spend less time in hospital and can have better outcomes.
Adel Jones, the RD&E’s integration director, said: “These changes will help improve clinical outcomes for our patients and ensure that services are delivered where they are most effective. This means providing the best acute care possible for the critically ill in hospital and helping people who are able to be discharged rehabilitate in their own homes with the right support and interventions.”