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Hertfordshire stroke patients receive fast-track care thanks to new video assessment system

Posted: 7 February 2024

Staff standing in front of an ambulance Pictured above left: paramedic Darren Hart, lead stroke nurse specialist Karyn Butchard, stroke nurse specialist Louise Ward, assistant divisional manager for elderly care and stroke Pauline Sweeney and paramedic Matthew Rozemont

An innovative new way of providing rapid remote assessment of stroke patients and swifter access to life-saving treatment has helped over 20 patients since launching in December.

West Herts Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (WHTH) have partnered with the region’s ambulance service - East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) - to launch a pilot video assessment programme at Watford General Hospital.

The system allows ambulance crews to assess suspected stroke patients by linking with a stroke specialist at Watford General via a tablet.

The joint assessment ensures patients are taken to the right place first time for treatment meaning stroke patients can go straight to specialist care in a hospital without the need for assessment in the emergency department (A&E).

Staff standing in front of a scanner Pictured above right: assistant divisional manager for elderly care and stroke Pauline Sweeney, lead stroke nurse specialist Karyn Butchard, stroke nurse specialist Louise Ward and superintendent radiographer Nick Tessier

Stroke specialists can also request imaging and tests prior to the patient’s arrival, providing prompt imaging, earlier treatment and improved patient outcomes.

Dr Tolu Adesina, consultant stroke physician and clinical lead for stroke at WHTH, said: “This innovation is helping ensure that patients can be taken directly for urgent scans, increasing the speed in which they receive stroke intervention treatment and reducing handover times from the paramedic staff. We have found this an extremely useful innovation, with one patient being scanned within two minutes of arrival.”

Stroke patients are also receiving hyper acute stroke care sooner. This is the intensive care a patient receives in a stroke ward for the first 72 hours post-stroke with higher levels of monitoring.

Andrew Larby, clinical lead for stroke video triage at EEAST, said: “We know the sooner patients receive hyper acute stroke treatment, the better their likely outcome. The video assessment system is a fantastic innovation, harnessing technology already available to us to enable stroke specialists to see patients remotely, before arriving at hospital.”

Karyn Butchard, lead stroke nurse specialist at WHTH and clinical lead for the project, said: “Following the video assessment, if a stroke is suspected, the patient is met on arrival at the emergency department by the stroke team and taken directly to CT scanning – sometimes being scanned within minutes of arrival. WHTH was the first trust in the region to have adopted a nurse-led approach where skilled stroke nurse specialists triage and facilitate the prompt imaging and further assessments for patients on arrival.”

The programme, which EEAST has already been running in other areas of the East of England region, has seen 60% of patients pre-booked into specialist stroke care for a scan or other assessment.


  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: Out of hours, please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 600,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,800 staff and volunteers.
  3. For more information about our hospitals, visit You can also join us on Facebook, X (Twitter), YouTube and LinkedIn @WestHertsNHS