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Study finds link between access to specialist nurses and stroke survival

The number of specialist nurses available to treat patients immediately after a stroke is the most reliable predictor of patient survival, according to a new study
specialist nurses and stroke link

The number of specialist nurses available to treat patients immediately after a stroke is the most reliable predictor of patient survival, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Universities of Aberdeen and East Anglia found that just one additional trained nurse per ten beds could reduce the chance of death after 30 days by up to 28%, and after one year by up to 12%.

The study highlights the importance of ensuring adequate nurse-to-patient ratios and the role of specialist nurses, said RCN professional lead for long term conditions and end of life care Amanda Cheesley.

The importance of having the right number of nurses in place cant be overstated, she said.

Clear link

This research echoes findings in other areas

The number of specialist nurses available to treat patients immediately after a stroke is the most reliable predictor of patient survival, according to a new study.


 Research has shown a clear link between the number of registered
nurses available and patient safety.  Picture: iStock

Researchers from the Universities of Aberdeen and East Anglia found that just one additional trained nurse per ten beds could reduce the chance of death after 30 days by up to 28%, and after one year by up to 12%.

The study highlights the importance of ensuring adequate nurse-to-patient ratios and the role of specialist nurses, said RCN professional lead for long term conditions and end of life care Amanda Cheesley.

‘The importance of having the right number of nurses in place can’t be overstated,’ she said.

Clear link

This research echoes findings in other areas of healthcare where there is a clear link between the number of registered nurses and patient safety.

‘It also once more highlights the vital difference that specialist nurses can make. Too often senior and specialist nursing posts have been cut to save money, but their expertise and experience has a measurable positive impact on patients.’

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Research for Patient Benefit Programme, gathered data from eight hospitals in the East of England.

The results showed that at each time point, the ratio of trained nurses to patients predicted whether or not the patient would survive. Also, the nurse-to-patient ratio was the only factor that could reliably predict whether the patient would have survived or not at one year post-stroke.

Surprising find 

Professor Phyo Myint, professor of old age medicine at the University of Aberdeen, who led the study said: ‘This is surprising – we didn’t expect to find this. 

‘We might expect more obvious aspects of healthcare to have a greater impact on survival, such as having a team to support early hospital discharge, or the proportion of acute and rehab beds on the unit. 

‘Instead, we found that, when controlling for all other variables, an increasing nurse to patient ratio has a substantial effect on reducing likelihood of death after stroke. This proved to be a very clear and consistent predictor of stroke survival.’


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