PATIENTS treated by a groundbreaking mobile stroke unit have expressed their anger after NHS bosses confirmed it will not continue in Southend following the end of a trial.

A six month trial in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University, which saw consultants go to patients to provide vital initial diagnosis and treatment, will not be made permanent despite calls for the vital service to remain.

Terry Lack, 78, whose wife was saved by the unit, said: “I think this decision is scandalous. It’s a wonderful piece of kit. We should at least have one between two hospitals.

“My wife had blood tests done and a scan on the ambulance with the results through in minutes.

“Goodness knows how much this must have saved the local NHS. My wife had the golden slot. Others won’t be so lucky. I’m absolutely gutted.”

The unit treated up to three patients a day, with 56 people given lifesaving care in one 26-day period - some within a record breaking 16 minutes.

Stroke consultant at Southend Hospital, Dr Paul Guyler, said: “The project was completed on December 19 and, as we made very clear at the start of the project, the mobile stroke unit was only on loan to us for a limited time and was never ours to keep.

“At present there are no plans for the mobile stroke unit to return to Southend Hospital, although we understand there is interest in using it elsewhere in East Anglia.

“The data gathered is being analysed and evaluated at Anglia Ruskin University and then the results published in a medical journal.”

Nola Hoggard, 57, from Southend was treated for a suspected stroke in July last year. She said: “I’m very disappointed to hear it won’t continue in Southend. I think in the long-term this will prove to be very short sighted. I can’t believe they think taking stroke patients down the route of A&E is better than this.

“Thankfully, I wasn’t having a stroke but the team were very efficient, very caring and very thorough.”

A spokesman for the Save Southend NHS campaign group said: “We’re extremely disappointed. Its effectiveness in improving patient outcomes has been proved beyond doubt and its loss is a big blow for the people of Southend.”

The £750,000 unit was loaned for free. However, the £55,000 cost for the project was raised through money donated to the hospital via charitable donations.