King’s Stroke Unit named top performing in UK

19 February 2015 - The Stroke Unit at King’s College Hospital was recently named the top performing in the UK in a national audit.

Stroke unit

The Royal College of Physicians’ Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) 2014 Organisational Audit gave King’s a score of 95.8% – the highest of all acute stroke units in the UK.

King’s is one of eight Hyper-Acute Stroke Units (HASUs) in London, where patients with the most severe strokes are taken for urgent treatment.

The SSNAP audit assesses all 183 acute stroke units in the UK against criteria including access to a multi-disciplinary team (including Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists); waiting times for specialist imaging and treatment; and the frequency of consultant ward rounds.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, depriving it of oxygen. Strokes are caused by a blood clot blocking an artery, or a vessel bursting and causing bleeding in the brain.

Charlotte Clowes Cattrell, 45, a textile artist from East Dulwich, was treated at King’s for a stroke in June 2009 after she collapsed at home following a ‘three-day migraine’.

Doctors repaired the broken vessel in Charlotte’s brain by inserting a stent (metal tube) via an artery in her groin, then injected clot-busting drugs to break up the blockage and restore the blood flow.

This was one of the first times in the UK that a stent had been used to unblock an artery in the brain of a patient immediately after stroke. Without this treatment, the stroke would have affected her memory, movement and speech, and possibly proved fatal.

She recently created unique artwork for the Friends Stroke Unit at King’s to thank the team that saved her life.

The three pieces entitled ‘Love’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Luck’ are made from cotton fibres, which are used to create 3D designs and then painted.

“Everyone at King’s was so lovely,” said Charlotte. “After being very ill I’m well and truly on the road to recovery, and I wanted to give something back to King’s. Without the team there, I might not be here.

“The three pieces of artwork represent the three feelings that have been strongest throughout my ordeal – love, hope and luck – and I hope they will provide love, hope and luck for other stroke patients on the unit too.”

Maria Fitzpatrick, Nurse Consultant in Stroke Management at Kings, said: “We’re so pleased that Charlotte has made such a good recovery – her story highlights the importance of specialist stroke units like King’s and the benefits of treating patients quickly.

“King’s place at the top of a 2014 national audit shows how the hard work of the entire stroke team is making a difference to patients like Charlotte.

“Her kind artwork donation will be a great addition to the stroke unit that we hope patients will appreciate for years to come.”

Stroke is the third most common cause of death in England and a major cause of long-term disability.

The HASU at King’s treated 900 stroke patients during 2014 – 171 of which were treated with life-saving thrombolysing drugs to break up blood clots.

Notes to editors

1. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s largest and busiest teaching hospitals, training over 900 dentists, 750 doctors and 300 nurses every year. The Trust is recognized internationally for its work in liver disease and transplantation, neurosciences, cardiac, haemato-oncology, stroke and major trauma. On 1 October 2013, King’s took over the running of the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley and Orpington Hospital, as well as some services at Beckenham Beacon and Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup. The new enlarged organisation has over 10,500 staff and provides over 1 million patient contacts a year. 9,000 babies are delivered by our hospitals each year, and over 750 patients come to our Emergency Departments every day. For more information, please visit the website. You can also support the work of King’s College Hospital at

2. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

King’s Health Partners is one of only six Department of Health-designated AHSCs in England and brings together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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... to advance health and wellbeing by integrating world-class research, care and teaching.

3. At King’s College Hospital we fundraise for the best in treatment, research and health education, leading-edge equipment and improving well-being in our communities. By uniting doctors, nurses, researchers and academics with our supporters and volunteers we can provide the best patient care that goes above and beyond. Find out more and support us at