Pioneering stroke professor visits Anglia Ruskin

Published: 18 December 2018 at 10:00

Mobile Stroke Unit

Inventor of life-saving mobile stroke unit visits Essex to meet health leaders

The inventor of the Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU), which is being trialled in Essex by an Anglia Ruskin University professor, has visited the county to meet with health leaders.

Professor Klaus Fassbender, of Saarland University, introduced the MSU, a modified ambulance with a CT scanner, laboratory equipment and telemedicine, to his native Germany 10 years ago. 

This specialist ambulance allows patients to be diagnosed and treated on board, rather than losing valuable time transporting them to hospital, and has been credited with saving thousands of lives.

Patients in the MSU can receive lifesaving treatment “on the go” and can be triaged to the most suitable hospital. For example, the occlusion of a brain vessel can be detected in the MSU using the CT scanner, and the patient can be taken to a centre that can perform thrombectomy – a life-saving intervention where the blocked vessel is opened using a catheter that is brought into the brain.

The MSU has been deployed across south Essex by the East of England Ambulance Service over the last few months for an initial evaluation led by Professor Iris Grunwald of Anglia Ruskin University.

Professor Fassbender has been in the county this week and a small ceremony was held at Anglia Ruskin’s School of Medicine on Thursday. Professor Grunwald, Director of Neuroscience at Anglia Ruskin, Alan Tobias, Chairman of Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Daniel Phillips, Area Clinical Lead for the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST), and Rochford District Councillors Julie Gooding and Lesley Butcher, were all present.

Professor Fassbender was presented with a letter of gratitude from Mark Francois MP on behalf of the House of Commons, and heard testimony from one of the patients treated in the MSU.

Anglia Ruskin has been working in close collaboration with Professor Fassbender and the East of England Ambulance Service since 2013, furthering and innovating the treatment of stroke. With its state-of-the-art facilities within its new School of Medicine, Anglia Ruskin is training doctors from across the world in performing thrombectomy.

Professor Grunwald said:

“Professor Fassbender was the driving force behind the mobile stroke unit that has helped save so many lives across the world. We are very pleased to be able to thank him in person for his support in evaluating the UK’s first MSU, here in Essex, which has, next to saving time, shown that we can triage patients that need thrombectomy directly to the catheter lab. 

“We saw times as short as 102 minutes from 999 call to vessel opened in the catheter lab with thrombectomy. In this instance, having been completely disabled one minute, the patient fully recovered the moment the vessel was open, and was asking to go home an hour later.

“Here at Anglia Ruskin we have one of the only simulation facilities in the UK capable of training doctors in thrombectomy and we also enjoy a fantastic partnership with Southend Hospital, itself a renowned facility for the treatment of stroke. It was a pleasure for us to welcome Professor Fassbender, and we are looking forward to future collaborations with him and his university.”

Daniel Phillips added:


“We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Anglia Ruskin and Professor Fassbender to take this innovative pre-hospital project to the next level.

“We are encouraged by the number of expressions of interest from acute trusts across our region to work in partnership with us.”