Targets set to boost Australia’s ‘lagging’ stroke care standards


The national leaders in stroke have agreed to bold new targets to ensure Australians have access to world leading stroke care. 

Stroke Foundation, Stroke Society of Australasia, the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry (AuSCR) and the Angels Initiative joined forces at the National Stroke Targets Roundtable to develop a set of proposed targets for Australian hospitals to meet by 2030.

These include:

  • National median endovascular clot retrieval door-to-puncture time <30mins for transfers.
  • National median thrombolysis door-to-needle time <60mins.
  • National median door-in-door-out time for endovascular clot retrieval <60mins.
  • National median endovascular clot retrieval door-to-puncture time <90mins for primary presenters.
  • Certified stroke unit care provided to >90% of patients with primary stroke diagnosis.

Stroke Society of Australasia President, Professor Timothy Kleinig says every Australian stroke patient deserves best-practice, timely stroke care. 

“We know that fast access to expert treatment leads to improved patient outcomes and that’s exactly what the National Stroke Targets aim to achieve,” Professor Kleinig said. 

“This is the first step in a collaborative effort to support hospitals, stroke teams and Australian states and jurisdictions to provide best-practice, time-critical stroke care for their patients, to reduce avoidable stroke-related deaths and disability.”

There are many Australian pockets of stroke care excellence, with progress in treatment options, assessment, and access to specialist care. However, care of the average Australian stroke patient lags behind other developed countries in the timely delivery of acute stroke reversal treatments and stroke unit access.

When compared to other developed countries, the time it takes for an Australian patient to receive clot-busting drugs (known as door-to-needle time) is significantly longer. The longer stroke is left untreated, the more brain dies, and the lower the chances of survival and recovery. 

An accepted international door-to-needle target is within 60 minutes of a patient arriving in hospital. In the United States, 68 per cent of patients are treated with clot-busting drugs in that time, in the United Kingdom its 61 per cent, but in Australia it’s significantly lower at 32 per cent.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dr Lisa Murphy said this is unacceptable.

“Access to stroke units and median door-to-needle times have not shifted between 2017 and 2022. Australian stroke patients deserve better to improve their chance of survival and reduce their risk of disability after stroke,” Dr Murphy said.

“These targets are just the beginning. With a united effort and voice, support from governments, and increased investments, we have an opportunity to change this situation.” 

The new targets were announced on the final day of the combined Stroke Society of Australasia and Smart Strokes Nursing and Allied Health Scientific Meeting in Melbourne.