Stroke specialist Professor Pippa Tyrrell has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.
Professor Tyrrell, who retired from Salford Royal in December, has been recognised for her untiring service to stroke medicine and care.
She was the first specialist stroke physician to be appointed in Greater Manchester in 1995 and led the way in transforming stroke services in the region.
When she started as a Stroke Association-funded stroke consultant at the then Hope Hospital, there were no stroke services or specialists and no funding for them. That meant the average length of stay for stroke patients was seven weeks and care and treatment was often very basic.
Speaking earlier this year at a special lecture looking back on her career, Salford Royal Chief Medical Director Dr Chris Brookes said Professor Tyrrell had led the way in improving and reorganising stroke services in Greater Manchester, changing the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people. He recalled his own frustration as a junior doctor when there was little he could do for stroke patients and contrasted it with the current A-rated services throughout Greater Manchester.
Back in 1993, people who had had a stroke were scattered in different wards around the hospital and Professor Tyrrell would sometimes visit 20 wards a day on her ‘Tyrrell’s takeaways’ where she would claim them for the rehabilitation unit she had set up.
Professor Tyrrell emphasised that the improvements that have been made in clinical care – including the setting up of specialist stroke units, access to thrombolysis (clot-busting treatment), brain scanning, rehabilitation and stroke prevention – are based on high quality research.
“The story has changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years and it’s changed because of research,” she said. “We need to get the message out about the importance of research – but it is also essential to engage service users in your research.”
Her own research has been centred on inflammation in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of people who have had strokes and she spoke of her hopes for continuing studies into the use of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, an injected treatment to reduce the inflammation which leads to worse outcomes for patients.
“Always remember who you are here for – your research’s purpose is to make patients’ lives better,”
she told colleagues at this summer’s lecture.