Stroke unit opens at Cork’s largest hospital, three years late

After a series of false starts, a stroke unit at Cork’s biggest hospital is now to begin seeing patients in the New Year — nearly three years after its original opening date.

Under the National Stroke Programme, 28 dedicated stroke units were to be opened in acute hospitals around the country. All of the promised units are now operating, except for the Cork University Hospital unit.

Áine Carroll, HSE national director of clinical strategy and programmes, told the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee in May that the unit would open in June. That date was later pushed back to September. Now it is slated for January or February.

Round-the-clock dedicated stroke units with specialist nursing care have been proven to cut death rates from stroke by up to 25% and to seriously reduce disability. Each year, 2,000 people die from strokes in Ireland each year.

Cork East Fine Gael TD David Stanton said the CUH unit could save the life of one stroke patient every two to three weeks.

“Since the 27 dedicated stroke units have opened, Ireland has moved from the bottom of the EU league table to the top with regard to thrombolysis treatment of stroke,” said Mr Stanton. “These improvements have resulted in the saving of one life per day and three fewer stroke patients entering long-term care every day.”

According to Mr Stanton, the unit’s opening was delayed as the hospital were unable to secure nurses to replace those who had completed training for transfer to the stroke unit.

“Minister Reilly agrees with me that this sounds remarkable, given the numbers of unemployed nurses in the country and the fact that the stroke unit in Mercy University Hospital in Cork has been operational for two years,” said Mr Stanton.

The Oireachtas Health Committee was told earlier this year that the opening of the CUH unit had been slower than aimed for because of inadequate staffing, technical and data protection issues.

Under the National Stroke Programme, the HSE aimed to establish units in Dublin, the midlands, the north-east, the south-east, the west, Cork, and Limerick.

A stroke unit is in operation already at the Mercy University Hospital in Cork.


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