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More patients access specialist stroke services

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Health

2 October 2015

More patients access specialist stroke services

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

"Around 9,000 people in New Zealand have a stroke each year. Early identification and treatment is crucial. The sooner treatment starts, the more likely brain damage can be reduced,” says Dr Coleman.

“The latest figures show the number of patients managed in a stroke unit or within an organised stroke service increased to 73 per cent in the fourth quarter of the 2014-15 financial year, up from 63 per cent in the previous quarter.

“Hospitals are more quickly identifying stroke patients and moving them to specialist units. Overall DHBs are making good progress towards the 80 per cent target. We know that some patients with stroke end up in intensive care or high dependency units and the target recognises that.”

The number of patients who received stroke thrombylosis (a therapy that breaks down blood clots and is appropriate for a small proportion of patients) increased from 6 per cent to 7.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014/15, surpassing the six per cent target.

“While these statistics are encouraging and more patients are getting the stroke services they need, there is more to be done,” says Dr Coleman. “The Ministry is working with DHBs to ensure stroke services are consistent across the country.”

A national campaign to raise awareness of stroke symptoms and the need to access health services immediately is due to be rolled out next year.

The FAST campaign, piloted in Waikato last year, encourages people to learn what to look for and to call 111 if they think someone is having a stroke.

"If we can educate more people about stroke symptoms, we can not only improve outcomes for patients, but we can also reduce the burden that stroke places on our health system,” says Dr Coleman.

Your blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of your risk of having a stroke. This Saturday the Stroke Foundation is running its annual Big New Zealand Blood Pressure Check. Anyone keen to receive a free blood pressure check can head to their website for further information, www.strokewise.org.nz.

ENDS

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