Paramedic Graham McCelland at his workplace

During a stroke, thousands of brain cells die every second and emergency treatments must be given within a short time window. The faster ambulance services can get people to hospital for specialist medical attention, the better their chance of rebuilding their lives after stroke.

Dr Graham McClelland is the first research paramedic funded by the Stroke Association and one of very few in the UK. In 2015-2018, we funded him through his Postgraduate Fellowship award at Newcastle University. In 2020, Graham was awarded a Stroke Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, and is now looking to improve care in the crucial minutes and hours after a stroke.

What's your motivation for doing this research?

I feel that prehospital stroke care has not moved on in the same way that other areas of prehospital care have. While paramedics only see a stroke patient for a short period of time, the decisions and actions they make influence what happens next and ultimately the patient's outcome. As emergency stroke treatment is so time-dependent, getting the prehospital care right is important. This is something I am well placed to study and advocate for with my paramedic background.

Why do we need this research?

I'm focusing on the time paramedics spend with stroke patients. As emergency stroke treatments must be given within a short time window, it's vital that the time between calling for help and getting to the right hospital is as quick as possible. In England, the amount of time paramedics spend with a stroke patient before they are taken to a hospital is increasing despite no real change in practice. We're trying to understand why this is and what we can do about it. I'm also looking at how video calling can be used to improve emergency stroke care.

What are your aims?

I want to improve prehospital stroke care and draw attention to the importance of getting it right. I hope we can reduce the time paramedics spend with stroke patients, which will benefit the patient and the ambulance service.

How are you involving people affected by stroke?

They've helped guide my research throughout the project so far. Stroke survivors and carers help keep me focused on the problem at hand, identify which bits are most important and show me where there are more opportunities to involve people.

What benefits do you hope this research will have?

I hope my research help to improve emergency care for suspected stroke patients and communication between emergency services and stroke specialists in hospitals, helping to reduce death and disability caused by stroke.

Find out more

Find out more about Dr McClelland's work and the research we fund around the UK. You can also support our research by making a donation.

Stroke News magazine

This article is featured in the winter 2022 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.

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