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Chris Bath’s Open Letter To The PM

Chris Bath’s Open Letter To The PM
‘Be The First PM To Launch a National Stroke Awareness Campaign’

And the best thing? You don’t even need to be agile to pull it off before you head to the polls next year.

But first, some slogan-free advocacy – simple persuasion (not a lecture of course).

Every ten minutes, an Australian has a stroke. One in six of us will have one. It’s up there with heart attack as our biggest killer. It kills more women than breast cancer, more men than prostate cancer. It can strike at any age – babies, teenagers, adults young and old. And if you survive a stroke, the potential for life-long, permanent disability is huge. The number of survivors left cruelly disabled is expected to double within two decades. The knock-on effect for Australian families is immeasurable.

Stroke was identified as a “National Health Priority” in 1996. Successive governments have simply ignored it.

Year after year, there’s little improvement and support for the dedicated health workers battling to provide stroke services in Australia. We have hospital stroke units but the beds are disappearing. On average, the number of stroke beds has shrunk from eight to five in the past three years, and only 50% of stroke victims actually make it into a dedicated stroke unit.

We have a miraculous clot busting treatment known as Thrombolysis that can potentially reverse the effects of a stroke. But in Australian hospitals only 7% of eligible patients actually received it, according to a 2013 national audit report.

And it gets worse. Stroke is a time crucial disease. Survival is about early treatment and recovery is about early rehab. It can take months to learn to swallow again & perform the simple act of drinking a glass of water. Rehab is vital. But 412,000 Australians are leaving hospital after a stroke and don’t get any.

And don’t even get me started on the lack of coordinated support for carers. They are the unsung heroes in all of this. There’s virtually nothing for them – bugger all, despite the fact 90% of survivors go home after a stroke.

Sound like a Pandora’s box, Mr Turnbull?  Probably. But take just one simple step and it goes a long way to fixing it. Here’s the thing, the golden nugget of information in all of this:

Most strokes are preventable, notionally around 80% of them.


…we have never had a Federally funded, nationally coordinated, awareness campaign to save Australians from stroke. We know how to stave off a heart attack.  Why not a brain attack?

This is your big chance Mr Turnbull.

Already I can hear you saying, yes but how does spending money on stroke awareness save taxpayers money? Here’s the thing:

Let’s pretend we don’t care about the human cost. Let’s just talk purely in dollars and cents.

Stroke cost the health budget $5billion in 2012 alone. If around 80% of strokes are preventable and we had a national awareness strategy in place, and for argument’s sake, prevented just 30% of those strokes, imagine the savings. You do the maths!

The Stroke Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, battling heroically to get the stroke message out there.  It has a national action plan ready to go, but it needs Federal funding to make it happen.

Best thing is, the prevention message is so simple. Apart from the usual healthy lifestyle choices we all should make, the best way to guard against stroke is having simple, regular, blood pressure checks.  Hardly confronting!

Almost 4 million Australians have high blood pressure, putting them at serious risk of stroke and most don’t even know it.  You cannot feel high blood pressure or see it.  You need to have regular checks.

So where’s the deal I promised you Mr Turnbull?

OK, for a $75million spend you can save the health system and taxpayers billions, save thousands of Australian lives and families, and if you are the P.M agile enough to instigate a national awareness program for stroke, you will be the first to do it

I know you’re up for seizing opportunities.  As a carpe diem moment, this is a no brainer.

Kind regards and congratulations on the new gig,

Chris Bath

Stroke Foundation Ambassador.

P.S Stress can be a factor in stroke.  Make sure you get your blood pressure checked.

National Stroke Week

14-20 September 2015. 

Take the challenge. Be Aware. Live healthy. Get checked.

National Stroke Week is about raising awareness to prevent stroke in Australia. The National Stroke Foundation encourages all Australians to:

  • Be aware of what stroke is, how to recognise a stroke and what to do
  • Live healthy to reduce the risk of stroke
  • Get a regular health check

– See more at:

Written by Chris Bath

Chris is an award-winning TV presenter and journalist and an icon of Australian news and current affairs. From reading News to assignments abroad including East Timor, Bali, Gallipoli, Royal weddings and various Olympics, to interviewing politicians as Channel 7’s News reader, hosting Seven's Sunday Night programme, to anchoring breaking news events and tangoing to ACDC under a mirror ball on Dancing with the Stars, Chris Bath is a legend of the Australian small screen.


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