DOCTORS at Southend Hospital are celebrating after topping in league table for outstanding treatment for people who are at risk of suffering strokes.

The hospital’s stroke unit has been named the best in the East of England and the Midlands for its swift and effective treatment of patients in danger of having a potentially fatal stroke.

The figures, released by the Royal College of Physicians and the Vascular Society, named Southend Hospital as one of the best for carrying out operations to clear patients’ carotid arteries to ensure their condition does not deteriorate.

Consultant vascular surgeon James Brown said: “We have taken out many of the traditional steps in referral so that patients can be assessed and treated very quickly. It is the only way to achieve the 48-hour target of patients receiving vital treatment.

“Not all strokes are caused by blocked arteries. But when they are, urgent surgery is vital to prevent a further stroke with devastating – or even fatal – consequences.” Hospitals are required to carry out the surgery within 14 days of the patient first experiencing symptoms. Southend has achieved 88 per cent success rate, compared with just 48 per cent nationally.

This puts the hospital in good stead to achieve the Department of Health’s new tougher target which calls for patients having their vital treatment within just 48 hours by 2017.

Mr Brown said: “That is going to be hard but we are continually striving to do better and we will make it happen.” Treatment at Southend Hospital for stroke sufferers has also been praised.

Patient Wendy Torrance had a stroke last month while at home watching television.

She had two stays in Southend and was full of praise for the unit. Mrs Torrance, 69, from Hockley, said: “I can’t remember much about the actual stroke, just that I thought I was making sense and my husband and the staff kept asking me the same questions over and over. I realise now it was because I was making no sense.

”The staff were brilliant.” Her husband Doug, 72, said: “Her breathing was really bad, she couldn’t move and she just couldn’t talk. I realised something bad was going on so rang 999.

“She was given the clot busting drugs and literally within five hours I watched her get better and better.

“I was gobsmacked at how quick the change was.

“The stroke unit and staff were just fantastic.”