Telestroke will boost access to stroke treatment

Stroke Foundation welcomes the announcement of the New South Wales (NSW) Telestroke Service expansion into Tweed, saying it would transform emergency stroke treatment in the northern NSW region.

The Tweed Hospital is among up to 23 rural and regional NSW hospitals that are due to be included in the service’s roll out. The NSW Telestroke Service, managed by the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, speeds up diagnosis and supports regional clinicians in deciding the best care for the patient. This may include blood clot dissolving treatment or urgent transfer to a specialist stroke unit for more complex treatment.

Stroke Foundation NSW State Manager Rhian Paton Kelly said telehealth was being relied on more than ever in this time of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the NSW Telestroke Service demonstrated the technology’s value extended well beyond the pandemic.

“The NSW Telestroke Service is transforming stroke treatment in our state, and is giving the people of Tweed the best opportunity to survive and live well after stroke,” Ms Paton-Kelly said.

“When a stroke strikes, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute, but treatment can stop this damage. Time saved in accessing stroke treatment is brain saved.”

A Stroke Foundation report found the people of Tweed were among Australians at highest risk of stroke. The electorate of Richmond is ranked fourth out of Australia’s top ten hotspots for stroke, with a total on 232 residents estimated to have experienced a stroke for the first time in 2020.

Ms Paton-Kelly said the first step in ensuring better outcomes from stroke was getting to hospital quickly, and that means recognising the F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech. Time) signs and calling triple zero (000) straight away,” she said.

“I urge everyone to learn the F.A.S.T. message and share it with your friends, family and colleagues,” she said.

The F.A.S.T. test is a simple way we can all learn and remember the signs of stroke:

• Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

• Arms: Can they lift both arms?

• Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

• Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call triple zero (000) straight away.

About F.A.S.T. Community Education and the Centralised Telestroke Service

Stroke Foundation is proud to partner with NSW Health to deliver F.A.S.T. signs of stroke Community Education in support of the NSW Telestroke Service.

The $21.7 million NSW Telestroke Service links rural and regional hospitals and their patients virtually with a network of specialist doctors.

The service is jointly funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments. By June 2022, the service will connect up to 23 rural and regional hospitals across NSW with a network of virtual specialist stroke doctors, managed by Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.

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