Challenge to Government on Stroke Funding
Tuesday, 1st March 2016 at 10:33 am
Australians are being denied the latest advancements in stroke treatment, with hospitals ill-equipped to deliver around the clock access to lifesaving surgery, according to the Stroke Foundation.
A new Stroke Foundation study said that three states and territories did not provide 24 hour access to the time critical, proven clot-retrieval treatment.
The study found that there was only one comprehensive stroke centre currently operating in Australia.
In launching the report, Tackling the rising tide, the Stroke Foundation, alongside a delegation of stroke survivors, carers and health professionals called on the Federal Government for an urgent $44 million investment to address the gaps in stroke care.
The delegation issued a challenge to the Turnbull Government to capitalise on Australian led innovation or risk more lives by falling even further behind international standards.
Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan said despite Australian researchers being the brains behind development of radical new stroke treatments, including clot-retrieval, the system lacked the support and resources to ensure even basic care was made widely available.
“It is a tragedy that only a small percentage of Australian stroke patients are getting access to the latest treatments and innovation that we know save lives,” McGowan said.
“Not only is access to clot retrieval surgery (endovascular) low but why are only 7 per cent of ischemic stroke patients getting clot busting drugs, which have been considered standard treatment for over a decade?
“Why is there is only one comprehensive stroke service in Australia – there should be one in every state?
“Four in every ten stroke patients are denied access to stroke unit care each year. This is woeful compared with access rates in the UK, which currently sit at around 83 per cent. Australia could be a world-leader in stroke care, but after decades of neglect we are lagging behind countries like America and the UK.”
She said the delegation went to Canberra to appeal to the Health Minister, Sussan Ley, to make a difference.
“A modest $44 million investment will start addressing the urgent gaps in stroke care that cost lives, devastate families and add significant unnecessary cost to the health budget,” she said.
World Stroke Organisation President Professor Stephen Davis said it was vital the Government prepares the hospital system for a rising tide of stroke linked to our ageing population.
“There have been dramatic changes in acute stroke therapies, including the use of clot retrieval devices. Australia has some of the leading minds working in the field of stroke but our underfunded stroke care system fails to capitalise on this expertise,” Professor Davis said.
“Stroke is potentially preventable and treatable. The current gaps in care and inconsistency of the Australian stroke care system is a patient safety issue. With an ageing population and subsequent projected increase in stroke, things are only going to get worse unless something is done now.
“It is vital we use the latest technologies and therapies to have a tangible impact on the health and wellbeing of Australian patients, particularly for those in regional and rural areas.
“With targeted investment the Government can reduce the impact of stroke, improve the quality of care, and give survivors the support and information they desperately need.”
Tackling the rising tide sets out the key priorities to reduce the impact of stroke in Australia, including a program to drive targeted improvements in stroke treatment, funding to support stroke patients, and using telemedicine to improve stroke care in rural and regional areas.