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Dedicated stroke units to save lives

Dedicated stroke units to save lives

Dedicated stroke units in every metropolitan and provincial hospital in New Zealand are highlights of the National Party's health workforce policy.

Health spokesman Tony Ryall says, "If re-elected, a National government will require each District Health Board to establish a dedicated stroke unit in their hospital. These units will be supported by a National Stroke Clinical Network.

"International research and Australian experience shows that dedicated stroke units significantly improve patient outcomes. Since New South Wales brought in a similar policy nearly 10 years ago, the recovery rate from stroke has doubled.

"The network has ensured that there is a coordinated approach to care, resources are shared and expertise is promoted.

"An audit of New Zealand stroke services in 2009 found just 39 per cent of stroke hospital patients being treated in stroke units.

"Waikato DHB has a dedicated stroke unit, which has brought medical, nursing and allied health staff together from both acute and rehabilitation services. They describe it as bringing all the resources together to ensure the best care for each stroke patient.

"Thanks to their stroke unit, the DHB expects that every year, they prevent 125 people from having a stroke after an initial event, 60 people from having a heart attack after a stroke, and 60 people either dying or dependant on others after stroke."

Other highlights from the workforce policy include:

* expanding the voluntary bonding scheme to include medical radiation therapists and medical physicists who deliver crucial cancer treatment
* providing another 80 medical training places, and
* expanding clinical networks to give doctors, nurses and other health professionals greater leadership roles

"National has policies that are supported by patients, and by frontline staff. We will continue to support patients and clinicians as we protect and grow the public health service," Mr Ryall says.

Authorised by G Hamilton, Level 2, 262 Thorndon Quay, Wellington

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