Celebrating success....and World Stroke Day!

Lucy, Sarah and Claire have just returned from a week at Korle-Bu, reviewing progress and supporting the team both in clinical practice and with their training for staff at Ridge and La hospitals.  As always we were warmly welcomed and impressed by the good practice seen on the KBTH stroke unit.  Core stroke skills have become embedded here, and although there is always room for improvement it is heart-warming to reflect on the impressive progress made in MDT care over the last 9.5 years.

Training for staff at Ridge and La has gone well and key elements of stroke care were seen in practice at both hospitals: for example both have dedicated stroke beds; both have evidence of MDT documentation in place.  Ridge has unfortunately been subject to several changes in staffing which has impacted progress in recent weeks.  Despite this some improvements in care have been noted e.g. falling mortality and reduced use of catheters.  The KBTH team have a plan in place to support Ridge and to continue to develop sustainable practice amongst remaining staff.

Ghan La.jpg

The care for stroke patients at La has become demonstrably more coordinated: through this they have seen a significant reduction in both pressure sores and aspiration pneumonias.  Mortality over the last 7 months has been lower than predicted.  Staff are passionate about stroke care and have begun to disseminate their skills out to other staff within their hospital.

A stakeholders meeting was held on World Stroke Day (29/10/18) including representatives from all 3 hospitals, patient representatives, local and national media, and the Director of Ghana Health Service Non-Communicable Diseases.  Key updates from all parties were heard and the room was buzzing with enthusiasm for the future.  Special stroke t-shirts had been made with the FAST message on the back: this resulted in a lot of excitement and photographs!

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Much of our time was spend gathering data and reflecting on progress with the KBTH team.  This latest grant period comes to an end in December, so it is uncertain when our next visit to KBTH will be.  Whatever the future holds, it is certain that stroke care in Ghana is demonstrably better than it was when we started the Partnership in 2009.  We also have to plan our 10 year celebrations!

It could have been Accra...

So on another hot, humid and beautifully sunny day the Wessex Ghana Stroke Partnership set out for another hard but inspiring day of work. But this was not Accra or Korle Bu Teaching Hospital this was the Education Centre at Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester!!

After several months of preparation and hard work it was time to hold our first (of many?) sharing and networking event for those working with stroke in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

Just after nine in the morning the planes, trains and automobiles arrived from Sudan, Vietnam, India, Sierra Leone, Ghana and other areas of the world. Well to be honest it was trains, automobiles and bikes from Preston, Sheffield, Manchester, London, Cornwall and other areas of the UK. A group of 30 people with experience of working with stroke patients in LMICs gathered; eager to learn from each others’ experiences.

An informative start to the day. A lecture from Prof Allan Hill and Dr Sara Ashfar Morgan (University of Southampton) who discussed the current epidemiology of stroke in LMICs and how this may develop in the future. They were followed closely by Sarah Belson from the Stroke Association and World Stroke Organization informing us of the importance of stroke survivors’ organisations in delivering long term stroke care in LMICs.

We then heard the history, objectives, achievements and challenges of the attending partnerships:

  • The British Ghana Therapy Partnership
  • The Organized Stroke Care Across Income Levels (OSCAIL) Study
  • King’s Sierra Leone Project
  • Cornwall-Sudan Stroke Partnership
  • NIHR Global Health Research Group on Improving Stroke Care in India – University of Central Lancaster
  • Improving Stroke Care in Vietnam – Royal College of Physicians and North East and Red River Delta Region Health System Support (NORRED)
  • Finally some bunch who call themselves the Wessex Ghana Stroke Partnership!!!

The morning was concluded with an update on the Tropical Health and Educational Trust by Peris Thuo.

Thank you to all our inspiring morning speakers – Peris, Sarah, Allan and Sara.

After a good (and well needed) lunch we turned up the heat (literally!) and were led through a hugely constructive facilitated session by Fleur Kitsell from Health Education England – Wessex. Group discussions were held around the topics of competencies/training, influencing and measuring impact in stroke care in LMICs. The debates were thoughtful and meaningful and left a lot of us with much to think about!! It was wonderful to hear the similarities, differences, positives and negatives that each of the projects has encountered and some mutual learning was definitely undertaken.

Having rounded up the discussion and made some promises to meet again at the UK Stroke Forum in the winter, and in Cornwall next year it was time to say goodbye and ride off into the sunshine!

We hope that some of the discussions will be written up and published in a stroke journal at some point in the future so we can disseminate our learning further!

That leaves me to say a MASSIVE thank you to Julia, Louise and Claire who did most of the organising from the Wessex end and the ever amazing Fleur who appears to be able to facilitate anyone to do anything!!

Here’s to the same amount of sunshine in Truro next year!

- Amelia

Of training and dust

So we are back in Ghana! After an unfortunate and long delay at Heathrow Amelia flew into Accra on Tuesday 29th May – just – it was heading to 30th by the time the plane landed. Brilliant to see Kodwo and be whisked off to the luxury of Dean’s.

It was lovely to walk back on the ward to see all the old faces and the hustle and bustle of stroke care going on as normal at Korle Bu. I did not have time to even sit down before I was in the back of a car and on my way to Ridge (now Greater Accra General Hospital) to observe the Korle Bu team delivering the well-established communication and continence teaching.

Having spent the rest of the week catching up on the project progress to date it was great to have Keri and Liz arrive on Saturday night. Following my own experience I was not at all jealous that they had both been bumped to business class!!

Back to hard work on Sunday – in a taxi to Labadi Beach Hotel to do some serious debriefing and preparation for the week ahead – along with a bit of R&R!!

Accra has been particularly dusty – but this was relieved by torrential rain on Sunday and then again on Thursday – but this has only briefly disrupted the wonderful sunshine.

It has been a wonderful week spending time with the Korle Bu team and supporting them to spread the word of high quality stroke care across Accra. The training that has been undertaken with staff at Ridge and La General Hospitals is bearing fruit with improved care and positioning noted at both hospitals. The most notable element of the week has been the enthusiasm and drive of all the staff involved in the project.

Along with some administrative work to ensure that the project is on track all of us have enjoyed catching up with old colleagues as well as meeting new friends all in the pursuit of top class stroke care.

Calling all Stroke partnerships!

As part of our current Health Partnership Scheme Grant, we are planning a UK based 'networking and sharing event'; specifically aimed at UK partners who are part of stroke-related projects with low or middle income countries.  The exact programme is in progress - but we are increasingly aware of a number of projects that are focussing on stroke care, and are sure that there is a lot we could learn (and possibly take forward) together.

The event is likely to be in the Winchester area (to be confirmed very soon), with a provisional date of Sat 30th June.

If you are interested in attending or would like more information please contact Julia at jnm1g12@soton.ac.uk or Tweet/DM us on @WGStroke!

End of January/February 2018 visit

The positivity of the first few days continued into our second full week.  Firstly we had a very friendly and enthusiastic welcome at La Hospital, who are really looking forward to upskilling the staff who treat their busy throughput of stroke patients.  Back at Korle Bu we had a fantastic time with the team filming and audio recording all the content we needed for the training videos.  It was great to do something a bit out of the ordinary for all of us, and the enthusiasm and acting skills of everyone who took part blew us away!  Thank you so much to all the patients, staff, relatives and members of the public who agreed to be filmed.  Also thank you to the photographer Andy Rapkins, who fitted in so well on his first time in Ghana.  We will look forward to sharing the videos as they are completed over the next few months.

January 2018 visit - first post

Sarah and Julia are delighted to be writing this blog post from our guest house in Accra, following the first couple of days of our first visit of 2018!  Everyone has been very enthusiastic about the new project, and it has been lovely to catch up with the team at Korle Bu.  We have already been to meet some of the team at Greater Accra Regional (Ridge) Hospital, one of the two hospitals who will be working with the Korle Bu team over the next year to develop new stroke-skilled clinical leads.  We were impressed with the facilities at the newly-built hospital, and were pleased that the staff were so engaged and keen to get started.  We are looking forward to visiting La Hospital next week and meeting the team there.

We are off to the airport tonight to collect Louise and Andy (a videographer), as the other focus of the next week will be working with the Korle Bu team to film footage and audio for our new short stroke education videos.  These videos will be accessible to anyone via the internet, and aim to reinforce the key messages for each of the 8 Core Skills.  It should be a fun week; some of the team are getting ready for their close-up…and others will spend most of the week in hiding! 

Dean's Guest House
KBTH and Ridge team

New THET Grantees Announced

We are delighted to announce that the WGSP has been awarded a further Health Partnership Scheme Grant from THET.  The award will support a further 13 months of collaboration, beginning in Dec 2017.  The project will focus on the KBTH team training stroke care leads in two partner hospitals in Accra.  We are hugely excited about branching out beyond KBTH - increasing knowledge and skill more widely will ultimately bring benefit to more people with stroke in Ghana, so is an important step for the partnership.

We're busy planning our first visit for early 2018.  Watch this space! 


Two pieces of exciting news.....

The Wessex-Ghana Stroke Partnership has reached the final of the Health Service Journal Annual Awards, International Health Partnership category.  The application we submitted has been shortlisted and 3 of the partnership, Louise Johnson, Claire Spice and Liz Cullen, are presenting to the judges on Thursday 12th October.  The results will be announced at an award ceremony on 22nd November, so fingers crossed and “good luck” to Louise, Claire and Liz.

The second piece of news is that we are waiting to hear whether we have been successful with a further grant application.  The closing date for applications to THET was 1st October, and we expect a response any day, as the one year grant period begins on 1st November 2017.   Again, fingers crossed and watch this space!

Sarah Easton

Sharing our work - Dr Lucy Sykes attends ESC in Berlin.

On 24-26th May 2017 I attended the European Stroke Conference in Berlin. This was a fascinating and stimulating event bringing together Stroke clinicians not just from many European countries but also the Americas, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, Australia...but none from sub-Saharan Africa this year so I was proud to be flying the flag for Ghana by presenting our WGSP poster. I had only 3-4 minutes to speak, so it was challenging task compressing 8 years' progress into a clear overview of what the Partnership has achieved. Afterwards there were several questions and the audience were all impressed with the depth and quality of our work. I hope we will have future opportunities to present WGSP achievements to raise the profile of this and similar work throughout the Stroke community.

Celebrations and Farewell…….for now?


Liz and I have just returned from another busy and hot week in Accra.  As usual, everyone made us welcome and we were proud to see the unit working so well.  Everyone was happily working together for the good of the patient.  The 8 weeks that Amelia and Debbie spent on the unit was certainly evident and everyone spoke highly of their time there and misses them. 

We took the opportunity to take slide-sheets and bedpans out to Ghana and whilst there we bought 2 wheeled commodes…. It was fun seeing Dorothy squeezed into a taxi with them to get back to the unit!!  After much searching we have found a way of getting a new transfer aid out to Ghana, which will hopefully arrive at the end of June.

The main purpose of our week was to collect the final observational evidence and data to enable us to quantify the huge development which has taken place over the past 3 years.  Ruth and Jude had the various spreadsheets prepared and 12 of the team received certificates and badges for completing all 8 competencies!  This group includes nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, pharmacists   and occupational therapists, which shows the true multi-disciplinary team work taking place within the stroke unit.  Many other members of the team have so nearly completed their competencies …..  hopefully they will be signed off very soon.  Please don’t forget!!!

WGSP Stroke Celebration

Liz and I presented the team with a montage of photographs taken since 2014, which brought back lots of happy memories. Our final evening in Accra was spent at the Noble Chinese restaurant, where many an hour has previously been spent.  As our visit was short, we did not have time to go to the beach, however we did manage 2 hours in the market, and returned back to Dean’s Guest House with no money!

It is sad to think that this could be our last visit to our friends at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.  The grant has come to an end and the project plan is completed; thoughts must now turn to potential areas for further partnership, hopefully with the Ghanaian team taking the lead and the UK team supporting!      

Good luck and thank you to everyone involved in the partnership, Sarah