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New acute stroke unit to open at RLI

Linda Dunn, Clinical Lead and Advanced Nurse Practitioner, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust in the Huggett Suite.
Linda Dunn, Clinical Lead and Advanced Nurse Practitioner, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust in the Huggett Suite.

[P]atients in North Lancashire and South Cumbria will soon benefit from a brand new stroke unit at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI), thanks to an investment of over £1m.

The Huggett Suite, due to open in the spring, will be based in the Centenary Building, and will provide the RLI with six acute stroke beds and an assessment bay.

Stroke patients who come into the Emergency Department (ED) at the RLI will be assessed for eligibility for clot busting treatment in the department before being transferred to the new suite. There, they will be monitored by staff specially trained to care for patients immediately after a stroke.
The suite is equipped with state-of the art ceiling hoists to make lifting safer for patients and staff, continuous heart monitoring equipment, a patient gym and a therapy kitchen.

Linda Dunn, Clinical Lead for Stroke, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “A designated unit, with staff skilled in the management of acute stroke, will allow us to offer our patients the very best chance of recovery. Direct access to this type of unit with close monitoring and early intervention from a multi-disciplinary team is associated with a reduction in disability, death and a reduced length of stay in hospital.

“To ensure that we have the right staff in the unit, the Trust has made a significant investment in registered nursing, physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy staffing, and we are currently out to recruitment for a number of posts.

“It is an exciting time for us as a team. Currently, patients who have a stroke would come into ED and then go up to the Lancaster Suite when a bed was free before being transferred to Ward 23 for rehabilitation. When the new suite opens, patients will come straight to a dedicated acute stroke bed on the Huggett Suite where they can be cared for by specialist stroke specialist team.”

Ward 23 in Medical Unit 2 at the RLI will remain as a rehabilitation facility for stroke patients who need longer term rehabilitation. Staff will be given the opportunity to rotate between Ward 23 and the Huggett Suite to develop their skills.

The Huggett Suite was given its name in recognition of the contribution that consultant Dr Isabel Huggett has made to stroke and elderly medicine at the RLI. Dr Huggett, who retired from the Trust in 2014, will officially open the suite in April 2017.

Stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by either a blockage or rupture of an artery in the brain.

The lack of blood supply starves the brain cells of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to become damaged or die. This damage can have different effects, depending on where it happens in your brain. David Walker, Medical Director, UHMBT, said: “There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year, and there are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK alone. “A stroke can have a major impact on a person’s life. It can affect the way your body works as well as how you think, feel and communicate so it is important that patients who have suffered a stroke have the best facilities and care possible. The new suite will support our staff and help us to provide outstanding care to patients, and we are really looking forward to it opening.”

You could save your own or someone else’s life, or help limit the long-term effects of stroke, by learning to think and Act F.A.S.T.

F.A.S.T. or Face-Arms-Speech-Time is easy to remember and will help you to recognise if you or someone else is having a stroke.

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs of a stroke

You can find out more about strokes at or

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