HOSPITAL chiefs are celebrating after Colchester’s stroke unit was rated among the best in the country.

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The unit, which underwent a £1.4million extension three years ago, was ranked the region’s second top performer behind the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn.

The Royal College of Physicians, which carried out the audit of stroke units, placed Colchester 13th out of 151 hospital trusts nationally.

Dr Ramachandran Sivakumar, clinical lead for stroke at Colchester Hospital University Trust, said: “Our strong performance is a tribute to the professionalism, talent and dedication of the 50 or so multi-disciplinary staff who work on the stroke unit, including doctors, nurses and therapy staff.

“The audit covers the key aspects of the organisation of stroke services and shows how we compare nationally, which is very favourable.

“However, we are not complacent and we are still working to improve our service in the few areas where others are better than us.”

A trust spokesman added: “Most of the top-performing trusts in the National Stroke Audit are based in London where eight hyper-acute stroke units (HASUs) were created in 2010 to treat all patients in the period immediately after their stroke, following the centralisation of the capital’s stroke services.

“This process has resulted in better clinical outcomes as a consequence of concentrating skilled specialist teams in fewer hospitals.

“The NHS Midlands and East region is currently going through a similar review process, which is likely to result in fewer hospitals delivering the hyper-acute element of stroke care.

“Colchester, as one of the largest stroke units in the east of England, is keen to maintain its HASU service.

“The Trust will hear early next year if it has been successful and, if it is, whether it will also be asked to treat stroke patients from a wider area than north east Essex.”

The boost comes after the East Anglian Daily Times revealed last month the trust was consistently missing vital stroke targets.

The trust – for six consecutive months between April and September – failed to get 90% of stroke patients into specialist units within four hours of being admitted to hospital.

A spokesman for the trust said it was performing well and that the vast majority of hospital trusts in the region were missing the 90% target.

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