SPECIALIST regional health centres are making it harder for the ambulance service to hit vital stroke targets, it has been claimed.

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New figures reveal the region’s ambulance service has missed a target for getting patients to specialist units within an hour of having a stroke for every month this financial year.

East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) aims to get 62% of sufferers to specialist units within 60 minutes, but managed just 38.3% in September, the lowest so far in 2012/13.

Pamela Chrispin, medical director of the trust, said the development of specialist regional health centres had an impact on the service’s ability to hit stroke targets.

There are currently specialist stroke units at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals. There is also an ongoing stroke services review by Midlands and East of England Strategic Health Authority that could recommend a regional specialist centre be established at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

Dr Chrispin, referring to the stroke targets at an EEAST board meeting on Wednesday, said: “It’s very disappointing but in some ways predictable.

“It shows that more and more specialist services are being reconfigured.

“We no longer just take patients to hospital, we’re having to take them to specialist units now. That’s not something we were doing five years ago.

“There’s a regional stroke review about where our [specialist stroke] centres should be and that will impact on us as an organisation.”

Dr Chrispin added she hoped the move to recruit more than 145 staff – including paramedics and emergency care assistants –would improve the figures in future months.

She said: “I think it shows stroke 60 is a particularly significant indicator of how fragile we can be around resources.

“If we have got good resources, the indicator is better. My experience is it will improve in October.”

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