Mobile stroke unit introduced in Victoria

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jill Hennessy unveil Australia's first stroke ambulance outside Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Sunday, November 12, 2017. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jill Hennessy unveil Australia's first stroke ambulance outside Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Sunday, November 12, 2017. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)

The Stroke Foundation has welcomed the introduction of a mobile stroke unit in Victoria, but warned the national roll out of the initiative is not inevitable.

Part of a four-year trial, Australia’s first dedicated stroke ambulance is expected to respond to about 3000 strokes a year within a 20km radius of Royal Melbourne Hospital.

With the Stroke Foundation estimating there will be almost 56,000 strokes this year nationally, chief executive Sharon McGowan described the introduction of the unit as a “potential game changer.”

“Stroke Foundation is thrilled to see the mobile stroke unit trial come to fruition in Victoria,” she said.

“This multiple-year trial will generate valuable new data to help guide the future direction of acute stroke treatment.

“With demonstrated success, we will aim to see the units rolled out nationally.

“We hope this mobile stroke unit will be the first of many.”

Tasmania is considered one of Australia’s stroke hot spots, with the second highest stroke incidence per capita behind South Australia.

More than 12,000 stroke survivors are living in Tasmania, while more than 108,000 people have high blood pressure.

Mrs McGowan said it was up to the state and federal governments to bring about the change necessary for the expansion of the initiative.

“Tasmania has limited access to best practise treatment, including endovascular clot retrieval, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” she said.

“State and federal governments have the opportunity to invest in measures to change the state of stroke in this country.”