Minister of Health pays tribute to Wanganui Hospital's Acute Stroke Unit staff

19 November 2014

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman talking with patient Aiou Knowles during his visit to Wanganui Hospital’s Acute Stroke Unit.
During a visit to Wanganui Hospital’s Acute Stroke Unit today, Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman paid tribute to the clinical staff he acknowledged had done a wonderful job leading the unit since its opening in April this year.
Dr Coleman visited the unit after meeting with Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) clinical staff, board chair Dot McKinnon, chief executive Julie Patterson and Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation (ATR) Ward staff who have been so successful in nursing stroke patients.
WDHB clinical nurse manager Amanda Van Elswijk and WDHB geriatrician Jan Gregson said it was an honour to host the minister and show him the dedicated space and equipment staff use for the specialist care of patients recovering from stroke.
Mrs van Elswijk introduced Dr Coleman to ATR staff and patients during his visit to the ward where he saw the unit’s rooms fitted with ceiling hoists and beds specifically designed to enhance stroke care.
She said following the Stroke Foundation’s 2010 release of New Zealand’s National Stroke Clinical Guidelines outlining the best care for stroke patients, the Ministry of Health had encouraged DHBs to develop a care pathway which included establishing specialist acute stroke units.   
“Research has shown that stroke patients who have access to acute stroke units attached to rehabilitation wards have better long-term outcomes,” Mrs van Elswijk said.

Facts about stroke

  • Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand (about 2500 people every year). Around 10 percent of stroke deaths occur in people under 65.
  • Every day, about 24 New Zealanders have a stroke. A quarter occur in people under 65.
  • Stroke is the major cause of serious adult disability in New Zealand.
  • Stroke is largely preventable, yet about 9000 New Zealanders have a stroke every year.
  • There are an estimated 60,000 stroke survivors in New Zealand. Many are disabled and need significant daily support. However, stroke recovery can continue throughout life.
  • Most people can’t recognise the signs of a stroke occurring. Make sure you are aware of the signs to look for.
  • High blood pressure is a major cause of strokes. One in five New Zealanders has high blood pressure, and a third of these don’t know it. Reducing your blood pressure can greatly reduce stroke risk.
  • Stroke is a medical emergency but many New Zealanders do not have access to the best possible stroke hospital services.

For information about how to recognise the signs of, and how to prevent stroke, visit