Emergency departments across Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) continued to experience high demand in the early part of this year, according to the latest Bureau of Health Information report.
NNSW LHD says the report for January to March 2018 showed a 3.1 per cent increase in emergency department presentations across the district compared to the same period the previous year, equating to 1,538 more patients for the quarter.
But CEO Wayne Jones said that despite the increase in presentations, 79.8 per cent of patients left emergency departments within four hours of presentation, with the time it took to treat patients ‘mostly remaining stable or improving slightly across the district’.
Overall, 81.3 per cent of patients started treatment on time, up from 78.9 per cent for the same time last year.
Three local hospitals, Lismore Base, Ballina District, and Byron Central, saw increases of more than 6 per cent in the number of ED presentations compared with the same period in 2017, according to the health districct’s media release.
‘Northern NSW hospitals welcomed increasing numbers of patients through our doors during January to March, and it’s a testament to the skills and commitment of our staff that they continue to deliver high levels of patient care for people in our communities,’ Mr Jones said.
‘With our current suite of capital works and significant infrastructure projects underway across the district, including the $320 million redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital and the $7.35 million upgrade underway at Ballina District Hospital, we look forward to our hospitals being able to continue to perform well as health care needs increase in the coming years.’
Fewer long waits at Ballina
According to the report Ballina District Hospital saw an 8.2 per cent increase in presentations (or 327 patients) for the January to March 2018 quarter, while the time patients waited to start treatment in each triage category decreased or remained stable.
Some 82.5 per cent of patients spent four hours or less in the Emergency Department, up from 79.2 per cent for the same quarter last year.
‘Over the past six months the team in Ballina have been working hard to improve Emergency Department performance, focussing on a whole of hospital approach to reducing waiting times and improving patient flow throughout the facility,’ Mr Jones said.
‘These results are evidence of the focus and teamwork from all areas of the hospital, from doctors, through to bed management, nursing staff and discharge planning units.’
Presentations up at Byron
At Byron Central Hospital there was an 8.9 per cent increase in presentations (or approximately 460 patients), while the time to treatment decreased for patients in all triage categories.
There was an increase in the overall percentage of patients starting treatment on time of 6.3 percentage points above the same quarter last year, up to 80.9 per cent, and 83.5 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours, compared to 82.1 per cent the previous year.
Lismore Base Hospital saw a 6.8 per cent increase in the number of presentations, equating to around 570 more patients, compared with the same period in 2017.
Despite this increase, the median time patients waited to start treatment in each triage category remained stable.
More elective surgeries
Mr Jones said elective surgery performance in NNSWLHD was also strong, with 3.3 per cent more elective surgeries performed over the quarter compared to the same period last year.
The timeliness of performance also remained strong, with 97 per cent of patients receiving their elective surgery on time, he said.
‘The NSW Government is investing a record $15.3 billion in acute health services in NSW this year, including $36 million for growth in emergency care services and $227 million for more inpatient hospital services.
‘An additional $3 million will deliver more cataract removal, hip and knee replacement surgeries,’ Mr Jones said.
Echonetdaily contacted Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord for comment but none was received by deadline.