Parish council condemns move to close Yeovil acute stroke unit

THE loss of emergency care at Yeovil District Hospital for people who have suffered a stroke has been condemned by a parish council.

Last month, the NHS Somerset Integrated Care Board (ICB) voted to approve plans for a single stoke unit at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital.

The ICB said it would lead to “better outcomes” for patients.

However, the move has been met with opposition in the community.

Now, at a special meeting on February 16, Thornhackett Parish Council resolved to condemn the decision.

“The hospital is used by many villagers of both Thornford and Beer Hackett, the villages served by the council,” a spokesperson said.

“Some 30 members of the public heard from local councillors and patient and community groups about the background to the closure decision and the likely effects on those unfortunate enough to suffer a stroke requiring urgent medical attention, including longer travel times to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.

“It was explained that the financial justification for the closure had not been made out, neither was there agreement from clinicians that this was the best option.

“Further, although a similar Unit was planned for Dorset County Hospital (in Dorchester), this was not going to be onstream until 2025 at the earliest, and there were already recruitment issues.”

The council said the speed with which people who have suffered a stroke was important in their recovery, citing a King’s College London SSNAP report.

Thornackett Council decided that it would join with others – including Somerset Council – in asking the Secretary of State to review the closure decision using new ‘call in’ powers.

MP Chris Loder (Con, West Dorset), and other parliamentary candidates would also be asked for their support, they added.

What the Motion to the Council as voted on said:

“Thornhackett Parish Council:
1. Condemns the decision of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust to close the Hyper Acute Stroke
Unit (‘HASU’) at Yeovil Hospital and transfer the Unit to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton,
recognising the detrimental effect that this decision will have on the safety, health and
well-being of the people of Thornford and Beer Hackett;
2. Calls upon the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to call in and review the said
HASU closure decision, and instructs the Clerk to write to the Secretary of State to this effect;
3. Instructs the Clerk to write to Chris Loder Esq., MP asking for his support in this matter
generally, and specifically with regard to the call in request, and similarly to seek the support
of all Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for the West Dorset Constituency;
4. Asks that appropriate steps are taken by the Clerk and Councillors to disseminate and
publicise this Resolution, including in the press and on social media.
Motion proposed by Councillor Nicholas Whitsun-Jones
Seconded by Councillor Roger Baxter.”

After the plans were approved, NHS Somerset chief medical officer Bernie Marden, said: “The proposals agreed today are a significant step forward for emergency stroke care in Somerset.

“The changes will mean better emergency treatment, resulting in fewer deaths and better recovery for stroke patients in Somerset.”

And Dr Rob Whiting, consultant stroke physician and clinical director for neuroscience and stroke at the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, added: “The review of urgent stroke services in Somerset has always been about improving the quality of care and outcomes for patients.

“All patients, no matter where they live in Somerset, will benefit from being admitted to a unit that is able to provide excellent stroke care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“These changes will see a significant investment in local stroke services.

“We will see improvements to patients’ diagnostic and treatment times, with quicker CT scans and thrombolysis, meaning patients will recover better and have an improved experience.”

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.