Stroke patients in regional NSW will now have access to 24-hour critical care under a telestroke service being rolled out across the state.
The $21.7 million telestroke service will link expert stroke clinicians with local emergency physicians to quickly determine the best possible treatment plan for a patient.
Patients at Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour hospitals will be the first to benefit from the telestroke service, which is based at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital and the service will expand to up to 23 sites over the next three years.
A successful pilot of the service in the Hunter New England, Central Coast and Mid North Coast local health districts since 2017 has already helped 1200 patients.
In 2018-19, 13,651 people were hospitalised for a stroke in NSW. Of those, 32 per cent were from regional, rural or remote areas.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the telestroke service will remove geographical barriers and improve outcomes for thousands of regional and rural stroke patients every year, giving them a much greater chance of surviving and leading a normal life.
"People in regional and rural areas have a far greater risk of hospitalisation from stroke and this vital service will provide them with immediate, life-saving diagnosis and treatment from the state's leading clinicians," Mr Hazzard said.