Stroke services continue to improve

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman

Minister of Health

31 March 2016

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says new data shows more patients are receiving the specialist stroke services they need.

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

“The number of patients managed in a stroke unit or within an organised 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.

“Hospitals are more quickly identifying stroke patients and moving them to specialist units. We know that some patients with stroke end up in intensive care or high dependency units and the target recognises that.

“DHBs are making steady improvements towards the 80 per cent target. There is still some variation in stroke services around the country, and the Ministry of Health is working with DHBs to ensure greater consistency.”

The number of patients who received stroke thrombylosis, a clot busting therapy 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.

"All DHBs now offer clot busting medicines or stroke thrombylosis. Over time all DHBs plan to make this a 24/7 service which is currently available in larger centres, but is reduced hours in some provincial hospitals,” says Dr Coleman.

A telestroke pilot will start at Wellington Regional Hospital from June to test a ‘hub and spoke’ method. Wellington will provide clinical support and advice to regional services in Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, Wairau, and Palmerston North.

A national campaign to raise awareness of stroke symptoms and the need to access health services immediately will start in May.

Next week is National Stroke week - the Stroke Foundation will be raising awareness of stroke symptoms.

Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372 

Last updated: Thursday, March 31, 2016

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