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World class stroke care is achievable: Latest quarterly Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) results

The thirteenth report from the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) reveals today that 25 stroke services scored an overall ‘A’ score for the quality of care they provide for patients, demonstrating that a world class service is achievable.

It is evident that services are maintaining the improvements made in recent quarters as 26 services achieved this outstanding grade in the corresponding quarter last year. Achieving an ‘A’ score is a considerable accomplishment and these latest results show that, although the audit sets the bar high to attain a top grade, it is possible. The improvements in SSNAP results over the past number of quarters indicates the continued efforts made by clinicians to use SSNAP data as a tool for continuous quality improvement.

Though SSNAP has set stringent, aspirational targets, latest audit results reinforce our belief that the top score is achievable and sustainable over time. These standards have been set to encourage hospitals to both identify where improvements are needed and drive change. These changes reflect the continued efforts of providers to improve stroke care for patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Professor Pippa Tyrrell, associate director of the RCP Stroke Programme, said:

Measuring the quality of care is an essential component for quality improvement. The SSNAP provides very high quality information that can help professionals, patients, and commissioners use and develop their services for the future.

The report published today relates to patients admitted between January and March 2016 and includes named hospital results for the entire inpatient care pathway. The results are available online at the SSNAP Results Portal.

As in the twelfth report, it is encouraging to see key improvements in the national results for stroke care both in the first 72 hours of care and in post-acute care processes.

Participation in the audit continues to be an unprecedented success. In the latest quarter, 20,991 patient records were submitted for analysis within the 72-hour results – this is over 100% of the expected stroke cases for this period – while the majority of stroke services are now achieving the highest case ascertainment band. This is a testament to the honest self-reporting of SSNAP teams and their hard work in entering all stroke records to SSNAP ahead of each quarterly deadline. The genuine commitment to submitting timely and complete data, and acting on audit results to improve patient care, should be celebrated.

The power of SSNAP data is huge and has enabled a much stronger case to be made for improvements to stroke services, which is allowing commissioners and clinicians alike to offer the best possible care to patients.

However, there still remains unacceptable variation across the country. SSNAP uses an absolute measurement of results which means that all teams are capable of showing improvement.

Notes to editors

SSNAP is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership* (HQIP), as part of the National Clinical Audit Programme (NCA). The audit is led by the Royal College of Physicians Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit on behalf of the Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party.

For more information, please contact RCP head of PR and public affairs Linda Cuthbertson on +44 (0)20 3075 1354 or email Linda.Cuthbertson@rcplondon.ac.uk.

This report contains complete data for stroke patients admitted to and/or stroke patients discharged from inpatient care between 1 January and 31 March 2016. The 25 ‘A’-grades are out of 191 inpatient teams who submitted enough data to receive an overall SSNAP score for the quarter.

SSNAP is the first national stroke register in the world to collect information across the entire stroke pathway, from admittance to hospital, through care provided in the post-acute setting, to the 6-month follow-up appointment. SSNAP aims to improve stroke care by measuring the quality of services against evidence-based standards and supporting staff to make improvements. SSNAP results are updated every 3 months and cover all hospitals treating stroke patients in England and Wales, together with seven hospitals in Northern Ireland. It is the most comprehensive and reliable source of information about the performance of stroke services.

SSNAP is leading the way in supporting the data transparency agenda and future improvements in stroke care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Transparency and open data is a government initiative that aims to publish information about clinical services and outcomes and so enable patients, staff, academics and others to make informed decisions about healthcare services.

The SSNAP audit report is available at the SSNAP results portal.

There are various data visualisation resources that exhibit SSNAP’s latest results, including:

  • interactive maps
  • regionalised performance tables
  • slideshows
  • ‘easy access version’ reports designed for, and developed with, patients, families and carers.

* About HQIP, the National Clinical Audit Programme, and how it is funded

The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) is led by a consortium of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Nursing, and National Voices. Its aim is to promote quality improvement and, in particular, to increase the impact that clinical audit has on healthcare quality in England and Wales. HQIP holds the contract to manage and develop the National Clinical Audit Programme, comprising more than 30 clinical audits that cover care provided to people with a wide range of medical, surgical and mental health conditions. The programme is funded by NHS England, the Welsh Government and, with some individual audits, also funded by the Health Department of the Scottish Government, DHSSPS Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands.