Public asked to help shape the future of acute hospital-based stroke services in Somerset

Today the NHS in Somerset, is launching a public consultation on the future of acute hospital-based stroke services in Somerset. The consultation which runs from Monday 30January 2023 for 12 weeks until midnight on Monday 24 April 2023 is seeking the views of people in Somerset on the future of hyper acute and acute stroke (the specialist hospital care people receive in the first few days and weeks after having a stroke) services in the county.

Dr Bernie Marden, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Somerset, said: “We want every stroke patient in Somerset to have the best and most appropriate care possible. After a stroke, if the right specialist treatment, care, and support is received people can go on to live full and independent lives.

“We know that our acute hospital-based stroke services are not currently set up in the best way and that there are differences in the way these services are delivered.

“It is important that we provide high-quality stroke services in Somerset, which are sustainable and fit for the future, which is why we are proposing to change the way acute hospital stroke services are organised in our area, so that everyone in county will have the best opportunity to survive and thrive after stroke.

“Staff, people with lived experience, including carers, and community and voluntary sector support organisations have been working together to develop the best solutions for future acute hospital-based stroke services in Somerset.

“This public consultation is an opportunity to make your voice heard and tell us what you think of the proposals before we make a final decision on the best way forward. I encourage everyone to respond, all views are important to us.”

In Somerset, both Yeovil District Hospital and Musgrove Park Hospital have hyper acute stroke units, and acute stroke units. While the care delivered across local trusts currently is high-quality neither hospital has the right number of specialist staff needed to provide the units with 24/7 consultant cover.

While this is not just a local issue, nationally there is a shortage of stroke medical specialists, it is important to act now as the risk of doing nothing could cause a deterioration in the quality of stroke care in Somerset.

An in-depth evaluation conducted by clinicians, staff, people with lived experience and community and voluntary sector organisations has identified that hyper acute stroke services could be better delivered from one hospital site in Somerset, instead of two.

The public are now being asked to share their views on proposals.

The consultation will seek to understand whether hyper acute and acute stroke services should be provided at:

  • one hyper acute stroke unit in Somerset and, if that is the right way forward, whether the unit be located at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, and;
  • acute stroke services at either:
  • Two acute stroke units, one at Musgrove Park Hospital and one at Yeovil District Hospital; or
  • One acute stroke unit, which would need to be located at the same hospital as the hyper acute stroke unit proposed to be Musgrove Park Hospital.

Dr Rob Whiting, Consultant Stroke Physician and Clinical Director for Neuroscience and Stroke, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Stroke is a medical emergency and the third most common cause of death for people under the age of 75 in the UK. There is clear evidence that patients benefit most from being treated at a hyper acute stroke unit in the first 72 hours after their stroke.

“With stroke, what matters is the total time taken from calling 999 to having a scan and starting the right treatment. Travelling an extra 20-30 minutes by ambulance to a specialist stroke unit might worry people but it does mean we can start scanning and treatment as soon as the patient arrives.

“Being in a specialist unit also means that in the three days after having a stroke patients can be seen by stroke specialists every day, which we know is a vital part of recovery. This is not something we can always offer at the current time.

“We are convinced that the proposals for hyper acute stroke units in Somerset will improve the quality of services and help us achieve better outcomes for the 3,000 stroke patients treated in our area each year.

“This is the opportunity to have your say and help us to transform stroke care for everyone in our area and ensure a high-quality and sustainable service for the future.”

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am proud of the care that our colleagues provide for stroke patients, and they are working hard to give the best care possible, but experience from elsewhere has shown that consolidating stroke care can provide more sustainable services and better outcomes for more patients.

“No decision has been made yet and we want people to share their views and to help us understand as many different views on our proposals as possible, including potential benefits or impacts, other ideas or adjustments that could be considered before a decision is made.

“This feedback will help us to shape the model of care and provide support to our committed healthcare professionals delivering this vitally important service.”

To take part you can read the consultation document, participate in public meetings and events, and complete an online or paper questionnaire.

To find out more about our proposals and how to respond to the consultation, please visit