Impact and sustainability of centralising acute stroke services in English metropolitan areas: retrospective analysis of hospital episode statistics and stroke national audit data

BMJ. 2019 Jan 23;364:l1. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l1.


Objectives: To investigate whether further centralisation of acute stroke services in Greater Manchester in 2015 was associated with changes in outcomes and whether the effects of centralisation of acute stroke services in London in 2010 were sustained.

Design: Retrospective analyses of patient level data from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database linked to mortality data from the Office for National Statistics, and the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP).

Setting: Acute stroke services in Greater Manchester and London, England.

Participants: 509 182 stroke patients in HES living in urban areas admitted between January 2008 and March 2016; 218 120 stroke patients in SSNAP between April 2013 and March 2016.

Interventions: Hub and spoke models for acute stroke care.

Main outcome measures: Mortality at 90 days after hospital admission; length of acute hospital stay; treatment in a hyperacute stroke unit; 19 evidence based clinical interventions.

Results: In Greater Manchester, borderline evidence suggested that risk adjusted mortality at 90 days declined overall; a significant decline in mortality was seen among patients treated at a hyperacute stroke unit (difference-in-differences -1.8% (95% confidence interval -3.4 to -0.2)), indicating 69 fewer deaths per year. A significant decline was seen in risk adjusted length of acute hospital stay overall (-1.5 (-2.5 to -0.4) days; P<0.01), indicating 6750 fewer bed days a year. The number of patients treated in a hyperacute stroke unit increased from 39% in 2010-12 to 86% in 2015/16. In London, the 90 day mortality rate was sustained (P>0.05), length of hospital stay declined (P<0.01), and more than 90% of patients were treated in a hyperacute stroke unit. Achievement of evidence based clinical interventions generally remained constant or improved in both areas.

Conclusions: Centralised models of acute stroke care, in which all stroke patients receive hyperacute care, can reduce mortality and length of acute hospital stay and improve provision of evidence based clinical interventions. Effects can be sustained over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Episode of Care
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • London / epidemiology
  • Mortality / trends
  • Program Evaluation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / mortality*
  • Stroke / therapy
  • Urban Health Services / organization & administration
  • Urban Health Services / statistics & numerical data*