STAFF from the Acute Stroke Unit at Crosshouse Hospital have been honoured for helping transform care and treatment for patients.

They were awarded the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh’s William Cullen Prize for the way they have helped improve the longterm outlook for those affected.

More than 1,000 people in Ayrshire experience a stroke or mini stroke every year and many had to be transferred to Glasgow for thrombolysis treatment.

Now, patients presenting with a suspected stroke can receive the first 48 to 72 hours of their care, including thrombolysis, at East Ayrshire’s major hospital.

The William Cullen Prize is in recognition of the team’s work and the positive difference it has made since the Acute Stroke Unit was opened in November.

Mr Cullen was a pioneer teacher of chemistry at Glasgow University rising to international fame as the leading figure in Edinburgh University medical school.

He died, aged 80, in 1790 having become the most influential medical lecturer of his generation.

His private consultations survive as a remarkable archive of several thousand letters with 20,678 now accessible online.

Acute Stroke Unit staff were presented with a copy of one of the the letters at the recent Ayrshire Achieves annual awards ceremony for local NHS staff nominated by the public.

John Burns, chief executive of NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: “We are pleased to recognise the work of the team of the Acute Stroke Unit at University Hospital Crosshouse.

“The key to treating stroke is speed — the quicker we can start treatment, the better the outcome for patients.

“So if we can start treatment within four-and-a-half hours of the onset of symptoms, the patient has a better chance of making a full recovery.

“The Acute Stroke Unit is fully equipped with state of the art equipment, including a tele-medicine system which allows the medical and nursing team to communicate with an acute stroke consultant 24 hours a day.

“A team approach is key to the success of the unit and there is excellent support from our team here in NHS Ayrshire and Arran and from our colleagues in NHS Lanarkshire. The unit is a fantastic example of working together to achieve the healthiest life possible for everyone in Ayrshire and Arran.”

Professor Andrew Collier, of The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, attended the Ayrshire Achieves event.

He said: “This prize particularly recognises excellence in service innovation at a local level.

“This new unit means patients can be seen quickly and locally. Some patients are able to be discharged home the same day, with secondary prevention in place to reduce the risk of stroke.”