A SPECIALIST unit at Whiston Hospital will be developed to take patients from Halton and Warrington - as well as St Helens and Knowsley - with the symptoms of a stroke for their treatment.

Residents are being asked to give feedback on the impact of changes to stroke services, which have already started with a first phase meaning patients from a wider geographical area displaying the symptoms of a stroke - whose assessment indicates they need clot-busting medication - are taken to Whiston for this treatment.

According to a spokesperson for NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group, the creation of a single hyper-acute unit will "provide highly specialist staff, access to the best available treatment and diagnosis at the earliest opportunity - under one roof".

Once the hospital treatment has been received, patients requiring rehabilitation will be transferred back to Warrington Hospital.

Stroke specialists from both St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will work together to provide this service.

Professor Sarah O'Brien, clinical chief executive at NHS St Helens CCG said the organisation is "committed to constantly reviewing the services we provide" to ensure that "patients receive the right care at the right time in the right place".

She added: "The review of stroke services identified areas for improvement and making these changes will ensure the best possible outcome for patients."

According to the CCG, there have been a "number of challenges" to address, including the availability of specialist clinical stroke expertise and consultant cover at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust due to retirement of a stroke consultant and the "difficulty in recruiting stroke specialists due to national shortages".

Since June 2016, patients requiring the Thrombolysis clot-busting medicine have been treated at Whiston out-of-hours and at weekends. The recent change extends this service to 24/7, 365 days a year.

Thrombolysis needs to be administered within four hours of stroke symptoms starting.

CCGs in Warrington, Halton and St Helens are working together to engage with the public and this engagement will run until Friday, September 15.

To comment, email stroke@warringtonccg.nhs.uk.

Residents can attend a public engagement hosted jointly by The Stroke Association and NHS St Helens CCG on Thursday, June 29, from 11am to 1pm at St Helens Town Hall. To book a place, contact the Stroke Association on 0161 742 7468 or email rebecca.murray@stroke.org.uk.