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15.05.20

NHS turns to artificial intelligence to speed up stroke care

As the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak, it is vitally important that other non-Covid-19 conditions still receive the care they need. In just one such example, NHS staff across the country have been working above and beyond to ensure anyone needing stroke care can safety get it despite the current pressures on the healthcare system.

With statistics showing a significant decline in A&E attendances in April, top doctors are urging people who may be having a stroke to come forward for care as soon as possible, reminding the public to ‘act F.A.S.T.’ if someone is displaying symptoms of a stroke.

One trust has adopted an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to enable them to speed up decision making and treatment despite dealing with the coronavirus.

Across the NHS, AI solutions are being rolled out to support clinical decision making on life-changing treatments including mechanical thrombectomy, a procedure which can prevent long-term disability and enable more people to be independent after a stroke.

The new AI tool allows doctors to view patient scans remotely on an app and make better and faster decisions on the right treatment options for their patients.

However, senior medics have expressed concerns people are currently putting off seeking necessary when they need it because of worries over coronavirus. As part of their ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign, the NHS is urging the public to continue to follow the ‘act F.A.S.T.’ guidelines and dial 999 if somebody is suffering from a suspected stroke.

iStock-1169712167 

One trust has adopted an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to enable them to speed up decision making and treatment despite dealing with the coronavirus.
 

Services across the country have been restructured to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to or passing on infection in hospital. Plans have also been put in place to ensure people continue to receive care even if local ambulance and hospital teams were put under much more severe pressure due to coronavirus than has transpired in many places.

NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “If you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke or another killer condition you should seek help as you always would – NHS staff have worked hard to ensure you can get it safely.

“The virus will be with us for some time and that means hospitals will be treating thousands of patients, but at the same time it is great to see cutting edge technologies like AI scans being brought in despite the coronavirus pandemic, to help speed up brain imaging and ensure quicker access to life saving treatment.”

NHS National Clinical Director for Stroke, Dr Deb Lowe, added: “While NHS staff have rightly gone over and above to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic, providing safe, world-class treatment for killer conditions like stroke has always been a priority.

“Because of that incredible effort from all our doctors, nurses and therapy teams, the NHS has been able to provide care for everyone who has urgently needed it, but my fellow clinicians and I have been really worried that the number of people coming forward for stroke care at the right time has gone down.

“So if you or a loved one experience stroke symptoms, please help us help you, act FAST, and call 999. Our expert paramedics, stroke nurses, radiologists and doctors will ensure you get the care you need as quickly as possible.”

The F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym is a simple test to help people identify the most common signs of a stroke and emphasises the importance of acting quickly by calling 999. The acronym is:

  • 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 to call 999

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