Call 999 if you see any single one of the signs of a stroke – that’s the key instruction of the Act F.A.S.T public awareness campaign.
New radio, television and newspaper adverts advise people to “Think and Act F.A.S.T”, with the acronym helping to identify the most common signs of stroke:
- Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
- Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
- Speech – is their speech slurred?
- Time – even if you’re not sure, call 999.
The impactful campaign encourages everyone to act fast to become a ‘stroke saver’ and the focus on stroke symptoms is being welcomed by stroke doctors in Sussex.
Dr Simone Ivatts, a consultant stroke physician at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, said: “A stroke is a medical emergency that requires specialist treatment as soon as possible. The faster people act, the better we can provide specialist treatment that could save their life.
“If you witness somebody showing one of the stroke signs, be it a loved one or a friend, call 999 immediately to greatly improve their chance of recovery and reduce risk of disability.”
The relaunch of the public awareness campaign comes as people living in Adur, Arun, Chichester, Worthing and south of Horsham, are being asked for their views on plans to improve in-hospital stroke care locally.
Over the past three years, clinicians have been working together to develop a preferred option to improve in-hospital stroke care.
Their proposal is for an Acute Stroke Centre to be developed at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, led by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (UHSussex).
Under the proposal, Worthing Hospital would no longer be a stroke receiving unit, and more stroke patients would be admitted to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and the Comprehensive Stroke Centre at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Working together as a network, the two stroke centres would ensure everyone in West Sussex is within a 60-minute ambulance journey to a stroke centre staffed by the right specialists, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An analysis of ambulance journey times shows that most ambulance journeys would be under 45 minutes.
Dr Ivatts added: “While it is very important to call an ambulance immediately if you think someone is having a stroke, it is also vital for them to get to specialist treatment centre as soon as possible for 24/7 care.
“Centralising our stroke service at St Richard’s would enable us to concentrate our skilled stroke workforce, including nursing, therapies, medical and radiology, to deliver new advanced techniques for our patients around the clock.”
Dr Rajen Patel, a consultant stroke physician at Worthing Hospital, added: “We know stroke care must be provided quickly, but we also know that if all the right pieces of the puzzle of stroke care are available in one place, patients will have better outcomes.
“So, it is better for people to travel maybe another 10-15 minutes in an ambulance to their local stroke centre to benefit from specialist expertise concentrated in one area and available 24 hours a day. This will improve our patients’ longer-term recovery and outcomes.”
People can complete a consultation questionnaire to share their views on the Acute Stroke Centre proposal. This questionnaire is available online at: https://online.ors.org.uk/questionnaire/15206CE.
Paper copies are available at public libraries and other community venues across West Sussex, as well as from Main Reception desks at St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals.
Stroke public consultation events
Public information events are taking place throughout March, where clinicians involved in developing the proposals will discuss the benefits for patients and help answer questions from the audience.
The first event is in Worthing on Monday 6 March, from 18.00pm to 7.30pm, upstairs in The Auditorium in the Guildbourne Shopping Centre, Worthing Town Centre. Further events include:
- Friday 10 March: 2.00pm to 4.00pm, Felpham Community Hall and Conference Centre, Felpham
- Wednesday 15 March: 12.30pm to 2.00pm, Stroke Association Virtual Zoom Workshop
- Monday 20 March: 3.00pm to 4.30pm, Stroke Association Virtual Zoom Workshop
- Tuesday 21 March: 2.00pm to 4.00pm, Jubilee Hall, New Park Centre, Chichester
For more information about the “Improving in-hospital stroke care in West Sussex”, please visit the NHS Sussex website.
The new Act F.A.S.T advert is being shown on television currently.