A telestroke service in Lancashire and Cumbria has led to 131 patients being thrombolysed, allowing an estimated 40 more patients to make a full recovery from a stroke.

The large-scale telestroke service went live across Lancashire and Cumbria about a year ago. Since then, 343 advice calls have been taken, 319 telestroke assessments completed, and 131 patients thrombolysed.

Head of Northwest Shared Infrastructure Service Gus Hartley said the area had “not a lot” in terms of out-of-hours stroke care, so before the service was introduced only about 0.05% of patients who had a stroke out-of-hours were thrombolysed.

Now, more than 11% of patients who have a stroke out-of-hours receive the treatment and more than one third of patients who have a telestroke assessment at any time, day or night, are thrombolysed.

This means that about 40 more patients are expected to make a full recovery with no lasting disability or brain damage and 30 fewer people will require full-time care following their stroke. The service was estimated to save £7m a year and is on track to reach this target.

Eighteen consultants are now on the out-of-hours roster. Each have been given a laptop in their home that links to a specially designed ‘telecart’ at the patient’s bedside in one of the hospitals in the network.

The telecart carries video-conferencing technology and gives consultants access to the Burnbank Image Exchange Portal, through which CT scans can be viewed.

Planned upgrades to the service mean the laptops will have diagnostic viewing level standard.

Virgin Media Business worked with acute services in Lancashire and Cumbria to develop the solution. It provides the high-speed fibre optic network to the doctors’ homes and the secure remote video diagnosis service.

Hartley said the telestroke service is well regarded as being very reliable and high quality and is popular with clinicians.

He added that patients who have used the service often come to meetings about it and one commented that it is “just like being in the same room” as the doctor.

Consultants have also found they can use the technology to provide cover to other hospitals during the day when stroke consultants are on holiday or ill.

Macclesfield Hospital in East Cheshire has recently joined the other eight hospitals on the service as it had only one stroke consultant to cover out-of-hours.

Other hospitals included in the network are: Cumberland Infirmary, West Cumberland Hospital, Furness General Hospital, Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Royal Preston Hospital, Royal Blackburn Hospital and Southport General Hospital.