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Nurses key to stroke survival

Monday 31st October 2016
Recruiting more nurses will be key to improving stroke survival rates, according to a new report. Image: monkeybusinessimages via iStock
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    Stroke survival rates in the UK could improve significantly if more specialist stroke care nurses are recruited throughout the country's hospitals.

    This is the conclusion of a new report from doctors at the University of Aberdeen and the University of East Anglia, which found that having more nurses on wards to be able to begin treating stroke patients immediately could help to significantly improve survival rates.

    What did the new research discover?

    The study focused on the survival rates of stroke patients in correlation to the number of specially-trained nurses available on the wards they were being treated on. A range of other factors were also taken into account, including the age of patients, the severity of the stroke they had suffered, and their blood pressure levels. However, these were found to have no significant impact on their likelihood of survival.

    Instead, the greatest influencing factor affecting survival rates was the number of stroke nurses stationed on their recovery ward. It was found that just one extra nurse for every ten beds was able to increase a patient's chance of still being alive 30 days after their stroke by 28 per cent. In addition, having extra nursing staff on hand was also shown to increase an individual's chance of survival after a year by up to 12 per cent.

    Taking all factors into account, it was found that increasing the number of nurses treating patients on a ward was the only factor able to reliably predict whether a patient would still be alive 12 months after suffering their stroke.

    Indeed, Professor Phyo Myint, a specialist in old age medicine at the University of Aberdeen, explained that the researchers were surprised by this finding, having expected the main factor for increasing stroke survival to be better rehabilitation or perhaps having improved support teams in place to assist with the hospital discharge process.

    He stated: "An increasing nurse to patient ratio has a substantial effect on reducing likelihood of death after stroke. This proved to be a very clear and consistent predictor of stroke survival."

    Importance of stroke nurses 'can't be overstated'

    The research was published to coincide with World Stroke Day on Saturday October 29th, to raise awareness of the importance of having specially-trained stroke care nurses on as many hospital wards as possible.

    Therefore, with the study results in mind, nurses with a high level of knowledge and expertise in this discipline could find themselves faced with increased demand for their services and a host of new work opportunities.

    Amanda Cheesley, professional lead for long-term conditions and end-of-life care at the Royal College of Nursing, commented: "The importance of having the right number of nurses in place can't be overstated. This research echoes findings in other areas of healthcare where there is a clear link between the number of registered nurses and patient safety.

    "It also once more highlights the vital difference that specialist nurses can make. Too often senior and specialist nursing posts have been cut to save money, but their expertise and experience has a measurable positive impact on patients."

    Written by James Puckle

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