Telestroke improves outcomes for regional stroke patients in NSW

March 04, 2021

More than 500 rural and regional patients have benefited from world-class rapid stroke assessment, treatment and management via NSW Health’s state-wide Telestroke service.

This life-saving service, hosted by Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital, connects stroke specialists with local emergency physicians to determine the best possible treatment plan for patients from Lismore in the north to Shoalhaven in the south.

Telestroke’s first anniversary as a state-wide service was a milestone to be celebrated given its power to rapidly connect clinicians across our vast state so that rural and regional patients have access to world-class clinical care, said Dr Nigel Lyons, NSW Health Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Planning.

“This vital service enables time-critical diagnosis and treatment for patients in regional and rural areas, and comes at a remarkable time in our history,” Dr Lyons said.

“Telestroke helps doctors to decide whether a patient should receive urgent clot-busting treatment at their local hospital, or be transferred urgently to a specialised stroke centre for more complex treatment.”

Since 16 March 2020, the service has saved lives and improved outcomes at hospitals in Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Orange, Dubbo, Bathurst and Shoalhaven.

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.

The Telestroke service will roll out to up to 23 sites by June 2022.

Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Deniliquin, Grafton and Tweed Heads are set to join the service in the next few months, followed by sites in Hunter New England and beyond.

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

“The state-wide launch of Telestroke in March 2020 coincided with the outbreak of COVID19, which demonstrated how well this model of care can work during COVID-19 and beyond,” he said.

“Every year, around 19,000 residents in NSW have a stroke and more than a third live in regional, remote or rural areas. Using Telestroke, our clinicians can deliver better outcomes for patients exhibiting signs of stroke by harnessing this cutting-edge technology – irrespective of location.”

The NSW Telestroke Service is a $21.7-million election commitment announced in March 2019 and jointly funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments.