UK Government

Department of Health (National): Act F.A.S.T. campaign relaunched to save more lives

Press Release   •   Feb 28, 2011 11:41 GMT

An award-winning NHS stroke awareness campaign will screen again in 2011, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced today.

The Act F.A.S.T. campaign has raised awareness of the importance of getting people who are having a stroke to hospital quickly through its graphic depiction of stroke spreading like fire in the brain. The adverts will screen again for three weeks from Tuesday 1 March as part of a £740,000 campaign.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

"The faster a stroke patient receives treatment, the better their chances are of surviving and reducing long-term disability. The Act FAST campaign is an effective campaign to help improve stroke outcomes - in the campaign's first four months alone stroke related calls to the ambulance service increased by more than 55 per cent.

"As part of our wider strategy to improve outcomes for stroke, re-running this campaign will save lives."

Launched in February 2009 with hard-hitting imagery to highlight the visible signs of stroke, the Act FAST campaign is designed to inform the public about FAST – Face, Arm, Speech, Time to call 999. FAST is a simple test to help people to recognise the signs of stroke and understand the importance of emergency treatment. The faster a stroke patient receives treatment, the better their chances are of surviving and reducing long-term disability.

According to National Audit Office figures for 2008/09, direct stroke care costs the NHS at least £3 billion a year, within a wider economic cost of about £8 billion, including lost income and productivity as a result of disability.

Joe Korner, Director of Communications at The Stroke Association said:

"We know these adverts have saved lives by making people aware of the symptoms of stroke and the importance of getting to hospital quickly. Many people have contacted us to say how they’ve used FAST and how it’s made a difference to the recovery of their loved ones. We’re pleased with the impact and progress the campaign has made and urge everyone to remember the FAST message."

Re-launching the Act F.A.S.T campaign is expected to help more people recognise the signs of stroke so that they can help family, friends and others should a stroke occur.

The campaign was recently recognised by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) who awarded it a Gold for effectiveness in November 2010.

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Notes to editors:

1. Case studies available on request

2. When Stroke Strikes ACT FAST

a. Face – Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

b. Arms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?

c. Speech – Is their speech slurred?

d. Time – time to call 999 If you see any single one of these signs

3. The term ‘stroke’ describes a loss of brain function due to a blood clot or bleed in the brain.

4. The three-week television campaign will run from 1 to 20 March inclusive, and will be aimed at adults aged 55+ in at-risk groups and their spouses (known as "stroke savers" – the people who suspect another person is having a stroke and need to take action), as well as adults aged 25-54.

5. The most recent results show that

a. there has been a decrease in awareness in the 7 months that the campaign has been off air. 79% of adults were aware of the campaign in March 2010, shortly after the last burst of advertising, and this has fallen to 62% . By the end of the financial year, we expect this to have fallen to 44% Awareness peaked at around 82% immediately after the first burst of advertising in the Spring of 2009.

b. Awareness of the campaign in this period (March-Oct 2010) has fallen to well below 50% among Afro Caribbean and South Asian groups among whom there is a higher prevalence of stroke

6. For media enquiries only please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221

7. For more information on the Act F.A.S.T. campaign visit www.nhs.uk/actfast

Contacts

NDS Enquiries 
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept 
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk