Stroke services at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust in Tooting, southwest London, have been rated the best in the country in results from a national audit released today. The National Sentinel Audit for Stroke, organised by the Royal College of Physicians, assesses quality of care by looking at the process of care in place for patients and how the service is organised. Over 200 trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were assessed across eight categories and the stroke service at St George’s achieved the highest overall score.

Around 11,000 Londoners suffer a stroke each year, making it the second biggest killer in the capital and the most common cause of disability. In July St George’s began operating one of eight specialist hyper-acute stroke units (HASU) in London, providing expert emergency care to stroke patients, including access to CT scans and clot-busting drugs which save lives and reduce long-term disability.

The stroke service achieved top marks in the audit for organisation of care for patients, the coordination of team meetings, and the breadth of specialist staff working on the unit. The service also scored very highly for its communications with patients and carers and the multidisciplinary approach to patient care – which sees multiple clinical staff from different disciplines discussing and contributing towards the patient recovery.

The audit also recognised the service for coordinating closely with a specialist community rehabilitation team for longer-term care of both stroke and general neurology patients – a care package which is not provided by over half of stroke services across the country.

Hugh Markus, Professor of Neurology and one of five consultants in the stroke team, said: “These results are a marvellous achievement for the team here at St George’s. The service has been ranked amongst the top ten in the country in the last few audits, so quality has been consistently high for some time now. The fact that we are now placed top is a tribute to a huge amount of effort and enthusiasm from a large and diverse multidisciplinary team.”

“We now provide all three tiers of stroke services at St George’s – a HASU, a stroke unit and a TIA (mini-stroke) service. In the next twelve months we are expecting to increase our bed capacity and the number of TIA clinics so that we can continue to provide the very highest quality care for increasing numbers of patients.”

The unique service at St George’s also provides comprehensive rehabilitation at the Wolfson Neurorehabilitation Centre in Wimbledon for patients with stroke and other neurological conditions. The service has been selected as one of only eight hyper acute stroke research units in the country, securing funding for advanced research into stroke care, which aims to help increase understanding of stroke and develop innovative treatments for the condition.

Notes to editors

  1. For more information about St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, please contact the Communications Unit on 020 8725 5151 or email Outside working hours, please page us by calling 0844 822 2888, leaving a short message and contact details for pager SG548.
  2. For further information about the National Sentinel Audit for Stroke or the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), please contact RCP PR Manager Linda Cuthbertson on 020 3075 1354 or e-mail
  3. What is a stroke?
    A stroke is caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually because a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot. This cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to the brain tissue.
  4. schaemic stroke:
    Ischaemic strokes are the most common type accounting for 80 per cent of cases. The artery is blocked by a blood clot, which interrupts the brain’s blood supply.
  5. Transient ischaemic attack (TIA):
    A transient ischaemic attack, often known as a mini-stroke, is a brief episode where some brain function is temporarily lost because of a short-lived disruption of the blood supply. Symptoms, such as weakness of a limb, last for just minutes (typically two to 15 minutes) before the blood supply returns and everything returns to normal, because the brain cells haven’t suffered permanent damage.
  6. Haemorrhagic stroke:
    In around 20 per cent of cases, strokes are caused by blood vessels in or around the brain rupturing and causing bleeding, or a haemorrhage. The build-up of blood presses on the brain, damaging its delicate tissue. Meanwhile, other brain cells in the area are starved of blood and damaged.