Prime minister launches NHS blueprint at UCLH 

07/06/2011 00:00 

Prime minister David Cameron visited the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) today and challenged the NHS to ‘catch up with the best’.

Prime minister David Cameron chats with patient Fiona Benington

Prime minister David Cameron chats with patient Jackie Reid Ward

Mr Cameron chose the NHNN as the venue to set out ‘five guarantees’ for the future of the NHS after a recent listening exercise to get feedback on proposed government reforms.

He visited neurology patients on the David Ferrier Ward at the NHNN which is part of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH).

The prime minister learnt more about the Trust’s life-saving stroke service - a collaboration between hospitals across north central London which has dramatically reduced mortality rates since opening just under a year ago.

He said: “I have heard such great things about the way we treat stroke patients in London and the role that this hospital plays and I wanted to come to see it for myself.

“The figures really are outstanding and show that if you have the right pathway for patients you can save lives and improve people’s quality of life. That’s what our health reforms should be about, UCLH is an example of that and we need the rest to catch up with the best.”

Mr Cameron was shown around the ward by Liz Davies, divisional senior nurse, after being greeted at the hospital by UCLH chief executive Sir Robert Naylor, chief nurse Katherine Fenton and medical director, specialist hospitals, Dr Gill Gaskin.

He was also introduced to Professor Mike Hanna, divisional clinical director Queen Square Division; Jackie Sullivan, divisional manager; Michelle Alexander, ward sister; Dr Nick Losseff, consultant neurologist and stroke physician and Dr Richard Greenwood, consultant neurologist.

Prime minister David Cameron meets nurses and clinicians at the NHNN

Prime minister David Cameron meets nurses at the NHNN

Dr Losseff said: "The prime minister showed a real interest in integrated care which is the major principle behind our stroke service success. Patients receive life-saving clot-busting treatment at the nearby University College Hospital and are either discharged straight home with community support or come to stroke units such as the one at the NHNN for further rehabilitation."

Patient Fiona Bennington, who attends the NHNN regularly for treatment for migraines, described the prime minister as ‘very down to earth’.

She added: “I was a bit nervous but he made me relax. He spoke to me just like a friend I had known for a very long time.”

Mr Cameron was then escorted to a lecture theatre at the nearby 33 Queen Square where he outlined his pledges to a packed audience including UCLH staff and governors and the media. His speech was broadcast live on BBC and Sky News.

Mr Cameron’s personal pledges are: keeping waiting lists low; maintaining spending; no privatisation; ensuring patient care is properly co-ordinated and that the NHS remains universally available and free at the point of delivery.

Describing the government’s decision to pause its planned NHS reforms, Mr Cameron said: “We have listened and engaged and not just heard what people said we are going to reflect it in what we are doing. The changes in these reforms do reflect the concerns of doctors, patients and nurses to make sure we get this right.”

Mr Cameron’s visit comes less than two weeks after his deputy Nick Clegg visited the physiotherapy department at University College Hospital. Mr Clegg also gave a live televised speech at the UCH Education Centre where he described how the NHS need to be ‘updated and modernised’ to meet the demands of the current economic climate and an ageing population.

Notes to editors:

  • The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery is one of six hospitals which make up University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It is the UK’s largest dedicated neurological and neurosurgical hospital. It provides comprehensive services for the diagnosis, treatment and care of all conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system and muscles.
  • The UCLH hyper-acute stroke unit (HASU) was fully opened in February last year. The unit, based at University College Hospital, provides hyperacute stroke care for all patients in North Central London, and in collaboration with stroke units at The National, The Royal Free, Barnet and North Middlesex Hospitals   It is thought that the HASU will enable UCLH to treat more than 1,000 stroke patients a year
  • In its first five months of being fully operational, the unit reduced mortality rates to a quarter of the national average for stroke – just six per cent compared to 27 per cent.
  • Previously patients suffering a stroke could have been taken to one of 28 A&E departments in London, many of which were unable to provide specialist diagnostic scans or immediate thrombolysis (clot-busting) treatment. Concentrating expertise in specialist HASUs means that patients get the best treatments which saves lives and prevents long-term disability.
  • For more information contact Ian Lloyd, UCLH head of communications, on 020 7380 9506.

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