Media Releases

Tele-stroke pilot shows promise

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - 10:09

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a pilot which connects stroke patients at smaller hospitals with specialists via video link is showing early promise.

“Around 9,000 people have a stroke each year in New Zealand. Early identification and treatment is crucial to reduce the likelihood of brain damage and lasting harm,” says Dr Coleman.

“All DHBs now offer clot busting medicines or stroke thrombylosis, but it’s not available 24/7 in all DHBs.

“A six month tele-stroke pilot was launched in June to provide 24/7 clinical support from Wellington Regional Hospital to four regional hospitals at Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, Wairau, and Palmerston North.

“Since the start of the pilot, 67 patient assessments have been carried out by Wellington-based neurologists. Around one third received clot busting medicines.

“Feedback from patients and staff has been positive, and although it’s early days the pilot is showing promise. I look forward to seeing its evaluation.”

Tele-stroke is part of wider work programme to improve stroke services around the country. The FAST campaign (Face, Arm, Speech and Time) aims to raise public awareness around the key signs of a stroke and emphasises the swift action needed if you’re concerned.

Hospitals are also getting better at identifying stroke patients and moving them to specialist units quicker. The number of patients managed in a stroke unit or a stroke service increased to 74 per cent for the three months ending December 2015, compared to 66 per cent for the same period in 2014.

The number of patients who received stroke thrombylosis, which is only suitable for a small number of patients, increased to nine per cent for the three months ending December 2015 - up from six per cent for the same period in 2014.