Regional and rural patients now have access to 24-hour critical care under a $21.7 million telestroke service being rolled out across NSW.
Patients at Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour hospitals are the first to benefit from the NSW Telestroke Service, based at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the revolutionary service will expand to up to 23 sites over the next three years.
“The NSW Telestroke Service will remove geographical barriers and improve outcomes for thousands of regional and rural stroke patients every year, giving them a much greater chance of surviving and leading a normal life,” Mr Hazzard said.
“People in regional and rural areas have a far greater risk of hospitalisation from stroke and this vital service will provide them with immediate, life-saving diagnosis and treatment from the state’s leading clinicians.”
In 2018-19, 13,651 people were hospitalised for a stroke in NSW. Of those, 32 per cent were from regional, rural or remote areas.
A successful pilot project in the Hunter New England, Central Coast and Mid North Coast local health districts since 2017 has already helped 1200 patients.
The Stroke Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan welcomed the launch of the statewide service, jointly funded by the State and Federal governments.
“When a stroke strikes, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute. This service will have an enormous impact by providing time-critical, best-practice treatment that saves lives and reduces lifelong disability,” Ms McGowan said.
Prince of Wales Hospital’s Director of Clinical Neuroscience Professor Ken Butcher said: “The service links expert stroke clinicians with local emergency physicians to quickly determine the best possible treatment plan for a patient.”