Telestroke service reaches Northern NSW patients

September 09, 2020

Stroke patients in the Northern Rivers will now have access to an innovative new telehealth service as part of a $21.7 million initiative being rolled out across NSW.

The NSW Telestroke Service will go live at Lismore Base Hospital today, linking stroke patients with specialist stroke clinicians via telehealth. The service enables time-critical diagnosis and treatment for patients in regional and rural areas.

“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,” Lynne Weir, Director Clinical Operations, Northern NSW Local Health District said.

“The Telestroke Service will improve outcomes for stroke patients in our region, giving them a much greater chance of surviving and leading a normal life.”

The service links expert stroke clinicians with local emergency physicians to quickly determine the best possible treatment plan for a patient.

Every year, around 19,000 residents in NSW have a stroke.

At Lismore Base Hospital from January to December 2019 there were 253 stroke patients admitted to hospital.

“A stroke is a medical emergency, and kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute,” Kim Hoffman, Lismore Base Hospital Stroke Coordinator, said.

“This Telestroke Service will have an enormous impact by providing time-critical, best-practice treatment that saves lives and reduces lifelong disability.”

“It’s also really important that people learn to recognise stroke symptoms and call an ambulance immediately, to give stroke sufferers the best chance of a successful outcome,” Ms Hoffman said.

“The F.A.S.T. test is an easy way to spot the signs of stroke, which I encourage everyone to learn.”

F.A.S.T. stands for:

Face: Check the person’s face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms: Can the person lift both arms?

Speech: Is the person’s speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time: Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

Developed by eHealth NSW and the Agency for Clinical Innovation, the NSW Telestroke Service is based at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital. The service will expand to up to 23 sites over the next three years, with Grafton Base Hospital and The Tweed Hospital expected to roll out in the program in 2021.