Breaking barriers to stroke treatment in country New South Wales

Stroke Foundation has welcomed a commitment by the New South Wales Coalition, if re-elected, to revolutionise emergency stroke care for the people of regional New South Wales.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced plans to roll out a Centralised Stroke Telehealth Service and treatment pathway to country hospitals.

The plan would expand on a current pilot project underway the state’s mid north coast, which has delivered promising outcomes for patients at Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour Hospitals.

Stroke Foundation New South Wales State Manager Rhian Paton-Kelly said the Centralised Stroke Telehealth Service would transform emergency stroke treatment in the state, ensuring the people of regional and rural NSW had a fair go at surviving stroke and living well.

“Regional Australians are 19 percent more likely to experience stroke than their metropolitan counterparts,” Ms Paton-Kelly said.

“Regional and rural people are also more likely to die or be left with a serious disability as a result of stroke because most stroke specialists are in our cities.

“It doesn’t need to be this way, telehealth technology is proven to remove barriers to stroke treatment and improve outcomes.”

NSW is home to 12 of the country’s top 20 hot spots for stroke – with 10 located in regional areas of the state.

Stroke Foundation Clinical Council Chair Professor Bruce Campbell said when someone suffers a stroke every minute counts.

“After a stroke, brain cells die at a rate of more than 1.9 million a minute. Timely access to treatment delivers a greater chance of recovery for the patient and decreased costs to our health system,” Professor Campbell said.

“Telehealth provides regional clinicians with support to diagnose a stroke, and where appropriate administer blood clot dissolving treatment or to arrange for a patient to be transferred to a comprehensive stroke centre for clot removal by highly trained specialists.”

Ms Paton-Kelly said too many families continued to be devastated by stroke.

“This year alone there will be more than 19,000 strokes in New South Wales.

“Regional and rural people of NSW deserve the same high-quality healthcare as those in the cities receive.

“I call for cross-party support for a state-wide telestroke network to ensure all Australians have the best opportunity to survive and live well after stroke,” she said.

In addition to calling for cross party support of a state-wide telestroke service and treatment pathway, Stroke Foundation called on increased community education and support for stroke survivors to ensure the networks benefits are maximised.

A fair go for stroke – delivering better health services to all the people of New South Wales sets out a four year plan to invest $5.58 million in a fairer health system, delivering equity for all the people of NSW, and the opportunity for those affected by stroke to survive, avoid disability, recover and live well. It also includes:

1. F.A.S.T. community education to reduce stroke and speed up treatment.

2. State-wide stroke telehealth network and treatment pathway.

3. Stroke Ambulance.

4. Stroke Outreach Program (StOP): empowering survivors to act to prevent further stroke and live well.

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