SERVICES for stroke patients in Gwent are set to be reorganised by the end of the year, with the Royal Gwent Hospital as the base for a “centre of excellence” in hyper-acute care.

And the number of sites providing rehabilitation after stroke will be reduced from the current seven to three, concentrating the in-hospital expertise.

This in turn, will be backed up by the development of community-based neuro-rehab teams, that will be able to bring patients out of hospital earlier where appropriate, for intensive rehabilitation at home or at a suitable community setting close by.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has been working on the proposals for several months, with the aim of adapting stroke services to make them better able to achieve the standards required under the Sentinel Stroke National Audit programme (SSNAP).

SNNAP measures stroke services in England and Wales against a range of criteria, including organisation, specialist roles, staffing, communication and the services available to patients after discharge from hospital.

The latest SSNAP results, issued last month, revealed that while stroke services across Wales have generally improved during the past year, they largely scored lower than their English counterparts, and there remains much room for improvement.

Currently both the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall provide hyper-acute services, for patients who have just had a stroke. The new model of service proposes that the Royal Gwent will be a sole provider of hyper-acute stroke services for patients across Gwent from admission and for the first three days post-stroke.

It will also be the base for acute stroke care - four-seven days post-stroke - for Newport patients, with Nevill Hall and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach providing acute stroke care for patients from the rest of Gwent.

Nevill Hall, Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, and St Woolos Hospital, Newport, will provide inpatient rehabilitation for up to six weeks.

The neuro-rehab teams will be developed across Gwent as part of a programme of early supported discharge from hospital.

In Gwent, 900 stroke patients are admitted to hospital every year, with a further 700 in with a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).