South Australias regional push must extend to better health care

June 25, 2019
Stroke Foundation is calling on the South Australian government to make healthcare a priority in its plans for regional growth to ensure people with stroke have access to life saving treatment. 

The State Government delivered its 2019-2020 Budget, investing in regional road projects, community infrastructure and industry, recognising South Australia’s regions are crucial for future prosperity. 

Stroke Foundation South Australia Manager Jonine Collins said this boost must go hand in hand with  improved healthcare in rural and regional areas. 

“If you want people to move to country areas, you also need to boost capacity for health services and  attract quality doctors to better support existing hard working health professionals,” Ms Collins said. 

“We know people in country areas are 19 percent more likely to have a stroke than their city counterparts and are more likely to have a poor outcome due to the geographical barrier to stroke specialists and treatment.

“Where specialist care is not on-site, robust telehealth is required. All South Australians deserve access to the best possible health care to ensure those who do experience a stroke have every opportunity to survive and live well.”

Stroke is always a time-critical medical emergency. It attacks the brain, the human control centre, but it can be treated and it can be beaten.

It’s estimated there will be more than 5000 strokes in South Australia this year, many of those in regional areas.  

Ms Collins said the opportunity was there to build on and commit to an ongoing investment in the current Country Health South Australia Telestroke pilot. 

“This service connects patients at the state’s 61 country hospitals with city-based neurologists via video-link, speeding up diagnosis and the pathway to treatment,” Ms Collins said. 

“This pilot has increased clot-busting treatment rates dramatically, saving lives and reduced disability and healthcare costs. Other states have committed to funding telestroke on an ongoing basis. Guaranteed funding from the SA government is required to minimise deaths and reduce stroke-related disability, now and well into the future.”

The state budget also outlined the South Australian government’s plans for a more sustainable health system.

“The Stroke Foundation recognises it is important to deliver efficiencies, to improve systems and supports, however patients and the patient experience must be at the centre of any changes,’’ she said.