The Stroke Foundation has welcomed the Federal Government’s 2018 Budget record investment in health and called for a targeted
focus on support for Australians to avoid and recover from stroke. The Government’s commitment to essential services provided reassurance, but for the Australians who will suffer more than 56,000 strokes this year and their families, more is needed.
Currently, there is no guarantee all Australians will have access to the best practice stroke care we know saves lives and reduces disability. Regional Australians are among those most impacted. Research shows regional Australians were 19 percent more likely to have a stroke than their metropolitan counterparts. Regional Australians are also more likely to die from a stroke or be left with an ongoing disability simply because they do not have access to specialist stroke treatment and care.
This Budget acknowledges current inequalities within the health system, by increasing focus on improving health services for rural and regional Australians. This is an important first step, but I would implore the Government to take them further.
There is an enormous opportunity to improve health services for rural and regional Australia by utilising digital health technologies and establishing a national telehealth network.
Too many Australians are dying or being left with an ongoing disability as a result of stroke. Patient outcomes vary depending on where you live and your access to time critical treatment. This needs to change.
A national telehealth network will remove geographical barriers and improve access to not only time-critical stroke treatment but
diagnosis and treatment of other conditions. There is one stroke in Australia every nine minutes. We must look after ourselves and each other to stay out of hospital, this plan will provide people with some of the tools to do so. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and managing blood pressure will go a long way to preventing stroke and reducing the associated spiralling costs to the health
system and economy.
Chief Executive Officer