Game Changer for Rural Stroke Patients in NSW

NSW Nationals

More than 3,000 patients who suffered a stroke in rural and regional NSW have received life-changing treatment thanks to the $21.7 million NSW Telestroke Service.

Nationals Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the lifesaving service, now fully rolled out across the state, is critical for hospitals across rural and regional NSW.

“Every year, about 19,000 residents in NSW have a stroke, and more than a third of those hospitalised are from regional and rural areas,” Mrs Taylor said.

“Innovative models of care like Telestroke have transformed healthcare in rural and regional NSW, allowing patients to be treated faster than ever before, in their communities.

“Telestroke has been an absolute game changer with, in the majority of cases, patients being seen and treated faster in our regional hospitals than they would be in metro areas. This service is leading the way.”

The NSW Telestroke Service is now saving lives at 23 rural and regional hospitals by bringing expert medical care more quickly to people who suffer strokes.

This innovative service rapidly provides 24/7 access to life-saving stroke diagnosis and treatment, connecting patients and local doctors with a network of specialist stroke physicians via video consultation, managed by Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital.

When someone has a stroke it is absolutely vital they receive medical treatment as soon as possible, which is exactly what the NSW Telestroke Service delivers, no matter where you live in the state.

The 23 participating hospitals are located in: Tweed, Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Moree, Armidale, Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Manning, Dubbo, Broken Hill, Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow, Blue Mountains, Goulburn, Cooma, Shoalhaven, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Deniliquin, Moruya and Bega (South East Regional Hospital).

One of the 3,000 patients thankful for Telestroke is Brian Whelan from Wollongbar in the Northern Rivers District of NSW.

The 79-year-old was rushed to Lismore Base Hospital when he suffered a stroke in June last year. At the emergency department, doctors assessed Brian and connected with the NSW Telestroke Service stroke on-call specialist neurologist, who was based in Gosford.

Thanks to the expertise of the NSW Telestroke Service, the team was able to successfully treat the clot in Brian’s brain.

Brian said the dedicated hospital staff saved his life.

“My wife says if I hadn’t got the treatment I did, I would have ended up in a nursing home. Or not here at all.”

Today, Brian is back playing golf and enjoying time with his family.

Professor Ken Butcher, Medical Director of the NSW Telestroke Service and Director Clinical Neuroscience, Prince of Wales Hospital, said the service helps eliminate geographical challenges in the fight against stroke, which is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability.

“Using Telestroke, our clinicians can deliver better outcomes for patients exhibiting signs of stroke by harnessing this cutting-edge technology – irrespective of location,” Professor Butcher said.

The $21.7 million NSW Telestroke Service is jointly funded by the NSW and Commonwealth governments.

Implementation of the NSW Telestroke Service is a collaboration between the Prince of Wales Hospital, eHealth NSW, the Agency for Clinical Innovation and the Ministry of Health, with support from the Stroke Foundation.

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