Mobile Stroke Unit in the UK Healthcare System: Avoidance of Unnecessary Accident and Emergency Admissions for the Majority of Patients

Iris Q. Grunwald, Daniel J. Phillips, David Sexby, Viola Wagner, Martin Lesmeister, Monika Bachhuber, Shrey Mathur, Paul Guyler, Saman Perera, Stefan A. Helwig, Ian Ewart, Nisha Menon, Muhammad Inam Ul Haq, Caroline Howard, Sarah Mapplebeck, Sajid Alam, Annie Chakrabarti, Marcus Bailey, Thomas Bertsch, Theresa FosterTom Davis, Klaus Fassbender (Lead / Corresponding author), Silke Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Background And Aims: Acute stroke patients are usually transported to the nearest hospital regardless of their required level of care. This can lead to increased pressure on emergency departments and treatment delay. To explore the benefit of a Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) in the United Kingdom (UK) National Health Service for reduction of hospital admissions.

Methods: Prospective cohort audit observation with dispatch of the MSU in the East of England Ambulance Service area in Southend-on-Sea. Emergency patients categorised as code stroke and headache were included from June 5, 2018, to December 18, 2018. Rate of avoided admission to accident and emergency (A&E) department, rate of admission directly to target ward and stroke management metrics were assessed.

Results: In 116 MSU-treated patients, the following diagnoses were made: acute stroke, n = 33 (28.4%); transient ischaemic attacks, n = 13 (11.2%); stroke mimics, n = 32 (27.6%); other conditions, n = 38 (32.8%). Prehospital thrombolysis was administered to 8 of 28 (28.6%) ischaemic stroke patients. Prehospital diagnosis avoided hospital admission for 29 (25.0%) patients. If hospital treatment was indicated, 35 (30.2%) patients were directly triaged to the stroke unit, 1 patient (0.9%) directly to the catheter laboratory. Thus, only 50 (43.1%) patients required transfer to the A&E department. Moreover, the MSU enabled thrombolysis with a median dispatch-to-needle time of 42 min (interquartile range, 40–60).

Conclusions: This first deployment of an MSU in the UK National Health Service demonstrated improved triage decision-making for or against hospital admission and to the appropriate target ward, thereby potentially reducing pressure on strained A&E departments.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Stroke
  • Pre-hospital
  • Mobile stroke unit
  • Triage
  • Large vessel occlusion
  • Thrombolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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