Following years of collaborative working, the stroke team at St George’s has formally partnered with Phu Tho Hospital in Vietnam by signing a memorandum of understanding to help develop their stroke unit.

Our team have been working with NICE since 2013 as part of their international project to help improve healthcare in developing countries, including Vietnam, which led to our team helping to implement the NICE quality international standards of care for stroke patients in 2014.

Since then, our team has visited Vietnam twice a year to work with seven different hospitals to develop the care they provide to stroke patients. However, during last month’s visit (31 October – 3 November), our team – made up of staff from stroke, neuro radiology and neuro rehab including Dr Andrew Clifton, Dr Liqun Zhang, Dr Adrian Blight, Dr Sancho Wong and physiotherapist Claire Waters – formalised the agreement with one particular hospital, Phu Tho Hospital.

This means that St George’s will support Phu Tho in operating a centre for stroke treatment in line with international standards, also collaboratively written by St George’s. Staff from St George’s and Phu Tho can also visit one another to take part in teaching, training and observerships as well as work together to improve practice by undertaking audits and analysing the data, for example.

The Vietnamese team were keen to work directly with St George’s as our stroke unit is world renowned, particularly since becoming the first Trust to provide 24/7 thrombectomy care in the UK in 2016, followed by being named as a designated centre for the use of mechanical thrombectomy earlier this year. We also receive a similar number of stroke admissions to Phu Tho – of which three floors of their new 10-storey hospital wing are dedicated to stroke.

The collaboration has already proved successful with our team helping to develop the first national Vietnamese nursing competencies for stroke care. Phu Tho has also seen huge improvements to their stroke unit with the addition of new CT and MRI scanners and advice from our team being implemented.

During the two day visit last month, there were lectures and workshops on stroke from leading experts from St George’s and Phu Tho Hospitals, as well as Dr Tony Rudd, National Stroke Director at NHS England who leads the NICE project. Talks included shared experiences in prevention, treatment and recovery for stroke patients as well as sharing best practice including innovative treatments and ways of working. There was also the opportunity for ward visits and meeting with patients before meeting to discuss thoughts and improvements.

Gill Cluckie, Consultant Nurse for Stroke, who initially set up the project from St George’s, said: “The collaboration reflects the huge amount of work that has gone into establishing the service at St George’s. We wouldn’t be in a position to help develop other hospitals without having a robust service ourselves. It’s fantastic that we have formed such a positive working relationship with Phu Tho Hospital, through our working with NICE and NHS England over the years.

She added: “We have a truly multi-disciplinary service at St George’s which we believe plays a huge part in how we treat our patients, and so we have been able to stress the importance of this approach to the Vietnamese team too.”

Dr Andrew Clifton, Consultant Interventional Neuroradiologist, said: “It’s a really exciting project to be a part of as the team in Vietnam are hugely committed to providing excellent care to their patients and take learning from St George’s to enable them to do just that.”

Notes to editors

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