Hospital Dr News

BASP identifies significant shortage of stroke physicians in the NHS

There is a significant and intensifying shortage of stroke consultants in the UK.

A report by the British Association of Stroke Physicians says four in 10 hospitals providing stroke care have an unfilled consultant post – compared to less than three in 10 in 2014.

This lack of specialist staff is limiting the ability of the NHS to deliver the latest medical advances and best treatment to stroke patients.

This report has been produced to help address this pressing issue by providing clear guidance on the workforce requirements that are necessary to support a modern NHS stroke service in the UK.

The calculations in this report were initially developed by the British Association of Stroke Physicians (BASP) and Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) Stroke Programme Clinical Leads, using workforce data gathered by the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Program (SSNAP).

Estimates suggest there are currently 676 stroke consultants working in the NHS in the UK.

To provide a comprehensive dedicated stroke service, our calculations show that an additional 226 full-time stroke consultants are required.

This is because a hospital admitting 600 stroke patients per year will require 40 Direct Clinical Care programmed activities (DCC PAs), and a hospital admitting 1,200 stroke patients will require 67 DCC PAs.

Stoke mortality has halved in the past two decades, the report says, but without further action, survivors living with disability will increase by a third by 2035.

Commenting, Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “In order to deliver the full complement of effective stroke treatments safely and efficiently, hospitals right across the UK must be well staffed and well resourced, with flexible rota design including time for doctors to train, teach and conduct research.

“As a College we support a comprehensive mechanical thrombectomy service across the UK – and indeed in Scotland, where no stroke centres are currently providing the treatment. However, this will be most challenging if stroke centres are not properly staffed and resourced to deliver this key treatment, which can save lives and limit disability after a severe stroke.”

The report concludes there is significant potential to grow the stroke medicine workforce by increasing the proportion of stroke medicine programmed activities specified in consultants’ job plans; exploiting the potential for stroke medicine training within ‘parent’ medical specialties (acute medicine, geriatric medicine, neurology and rehabilitation medicine); and implementing additional strategies to promote stroke medicine at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

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