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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Hospital waiting times improve – slightly

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Chris Dobney

Emergency waiting times at crowded Lismore Base Hospital improved in the quarter to June 30, according to new statistics just released by the Bureau of Health Information.

The median time to leaving the emergency department was three hours 36 minutes for the period, compared to four hours seven minutes the previous quarter.

But it still lags behind the state average of three hours five minutes.

All other hospitals in the region had waiting times below the state average, with Ballina Hospital recording a median leaving time of two hours 17 minutes and Tweed Hospital two hours 27 minutes.

Median leaving time for patients at Murwillumbah Hospital was one hour and ten minutes, the shortest time recorded in the Northern NSW Local Health District.

Waiting times for Byron and Mullumbimby Hospitals were not separately shown but figures for all small hospitals in the district showed a combined median time to leaving of one hour 33 minutes.

Stuck in emergency

Lismore continued to struggle with the percentage of emergency patients leaving within four hours, remaining stubbornly low on 54 per cent.

This did show a slight improvement, however, on the previous quarter’s tally of 49 per cent.

The state average is 65 per cent and the state target is 71 per cent.

But, with the exception of Grafton Base Hospital, on 63 per cent, all other hospitals in the district met or exceeded the state target.

When it came to waiting times for emergency surgery, Lismore did better, with a median time of eight days against a state average of 11.

Ballina, Murwillumbah and Tweed, however, blew out to 13, 15 and 18 days respectively.

Lismore did less well with semi-urgent surgery, with 58-day waiting time against a state average of 44. Ballina scored 55, Murwillumbah 62 and Tweed 49.

But the picture was grimmer for non-urgent patients, with a 319-day waiting time against a state average of 232.

Murwillumbah and Tweed did little better, with 310 and 270 days respectively, while Ballina Hospital patients could expect to wait 168 days.

The best hospital in the district on this parameter was Maclean, with a median waiting time of just 39 days.

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