Brilliant Care

Cornwall Air Ambulance delivers first lifesaving blood transfusion to teenager

25 February 2021 | By |

A Cornish teenager has become the first person to receive a lifesaving blood transfusion at the scene of an incident thanks to a new partnership between medical services in the county.

For the first time ever, Cornwall Air Ambulance is carrying blood on board the helicopter, giving the critical care team the option to start emergency transfusions before a patient even reaches the hospital.

Within just three days of the service launching, 17-year-old Zack Hancock received an emergency transfusion on the roadside following a serious road traffic collision at St Tudy, which left him with life-threatening injuries.

Donna Jewell, Zack’s mother, said:

“To see Zack lying on the road with so many people working on him was awful, he was unrecognisable. Police told me to say goodbye to him, they didn’t think he would survive the journey to hospital. Without this service, I would not have a son. The care he received from everyone has been amazing.”

Zack was airlifted to Derriford Hospital on December 4; he spent the next 11 days in a coma. Despite significant internal injuries, along with broken bones in his face, arms and legs, Zack is back home in Bodmin and recovering well from the incident.

The introduction of the service is a collaboration with the blood transfusion service at Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, South Western Ambulance Service and Cornwall Blood Bikes. The project has been funded by the Henry Surtees Foundation.

Cornwall Air Ambulance critical care paramedics underwent a rigorous training process to be able to administer transfusions, which was overseen by the charity’s doctors.

Paul Maskell, Trainee Critical Care Paramedic with Cornwall Air Ambulance, was one of the crew who helped Zack. He said: “Zack sustained multiple injuries, he had lost a lot of blood and was very poorly when we arrived at the scene. He was the first person to be able to benefit from this lifesaving intervention on the roadside in Cornwall, it’s amazing to see the difference it can make.

“By teaming up with RCHT and Cornwall Blood Bikes, we have significantly enhanced the level of service we can provide to our patients. It is an exciting development and a proud moment for the charity.”

The blood is transported daily from Royal Cornwall Hospital to the Cornwall Air Ambulance airbase in Newquay thanks to volunteer riders from Cornwall Blood Bikes.

Jayne Penlerick, Chair of Cornwall Blood Bikes, said: “This project has been in discussion and planning for a great length of time now, and it is truly wonderful to see such a partnership being formed during the most challenging times of this COVID-19 crisis. We are absolutely delighted and so thankful to be included in the support that has been received from the Henry Surtees Foundation in the form of our new BMW 1250 RTP motorbike to aid our delivery of this service, with our riders ensuring that the blood gets to the airbase, 365 days a year in all winds and weathers. All the volunteers at Cornwall Blood Bikes are immensely proud to be supplying Blood on Board to Cornwall Air Ambulance, and to be part of this project which will assist with better patient outcomes for the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.”

Dr Ian Sullivan, Blood Transfusion Manager for the RCHT, said: “Blood loss is a major factor in the survival of trauma patients, and having blood available at the scene of an incident will undoubtedly save more lives. The Blood Transfusion department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital was delighted to work with other organisations and charities to come together to provide a lifesaving treatment that was not previously available.”

RCHT Stroke Team achieves ‘A’ rating for brilliant care of patients

22 December 2020 | By |

The team was awarded the rating as part of the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) for the periods of April-June and July-September 2020.

The Stroke Team at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has achieved the highest rating of ‘A’ for their Brilliant Care of stroke patients in Cornwall. This is an outstanding achievement in the recent Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) for the periods of April-June and July-September 2020.

RCHT Stroke Lead Dr Katja Adie said:

“This is the first time Cornwall has achieved an “A” in the SSNAP audit. This amazing achievement would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the team and that of our colleagues across the whole patient pathway.”

Dr Adie went on to personally thank the departments and services that played a part in the team’s success. She included ambulance crews, radiographers and radiologists, the ED team and acute stroke nurses, the eldercare consultant and junior doctor team, as well as community nurses, carers and therapists. Dr Adie also thanked the management team for helping to keep beds on the unit dedicated to stroke patient care, as well as commissioners for supporting strategic direction and removing any contractual barriers to collaborative working in the best interests of patients.

“The work we’ve seen from all of our colleagues this year has been so vital”, Dr Adie continues. “They play such an important role in how well we as a team are able to provide care for our patients.”

Adam Linney, Service Manager for Eldercare and Stroke, added:

“During these challenging and turbulent times, it’s so important to take a moment to pause and reflect on how far we have come as a wider team for the good of our patients. The result of each audit ranges from rating the speed of admission to the Acute Stroke Unit (Phoenix), to rapid brain imaging of suspected Stroke patients, through to aftercare involving Stroke Nurse, Therapy and follow up expertise. The team have worked together all year on an action plan following an external peer review and consistently managed to drive down mortality following stroke.”

Adam continues: “Apart from everyone’s hard work, there have been a number of other factors that really made the difference this year. These factors included: an increase in the number of HASU beds; commitment to ring fence stroke beds for stroke patients, even in times of system escalation; advice to GPs regarding identifying Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA); increasing Atrial Fibrillation detection and prescribing in primary care. We’ve also seen collaborative working to relocate the TIA clinics into the RCH site, and the ESD team has moved out to be co-located in Bodmin Community Hospital and Camborne Redruth Community Hospital for even closer collaboration with community rehab teams.”

“It’s been a long road but the success of the SSNAP audit is incredibly validating”, Dr Adie concludes.
“Our next challenge is to embed further the working of the acute, community and primary care colleagues to maintain this position and increasing AF detection and treatment, as well as improving timely access to stroke therapy in the community.”

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