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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Local public hospitals deliver amid record demand

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The new Tweed Valley Hospital. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Public hospitals across Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) continued to provide high quality, safe care throughout the first quarter of 2024, despite unprecedented demand for emergency care.

NNSWLHD Chief Executive Tracey Maisey said the Bureau of Health Information’s latest Healthcare Quarterly (January to March 2024) shows there were record attendances to NNSWLHD emergency departments.

‘We’ve experienced unprecedented demand for emergency care, with 58,832 attendances in the quarter, an increase of 7.2 per cent or 3,935 more attendances compared with the same quarter last year, and the highest quarter ever on record,’ Ms Maisey said.

‘I want to extend my sincere gratitude to our dedicated staff members for their hard work throughout an incredibly busy quarter. Our impressive results across emergency department and planned surgery performance are a testament to their hard work.’

Increases across board

From January to March 2024, there were increases in presentations across all triage categories. Despite this high demand, more than seven in 10 patients (71.1 per cent) started their treatment on time, which is better than the NSW average (66.1 per cent).

Eight in 10 patients (80.0 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark time, which is in line with the NSW average (78.3 per cent).

The vast majority of patients (72.2 per cent) left the ED within four hours of arriving – which is significantly better than the NSW average (55.9 per cent).

All patients are seen and triaged on arrival at the ED and the most seriously unwell patients are treated first. During busy times, those with less urgent conditions can experience longer wait times when there are large numbers of seriously unwell patients being prioritised for emergency care.

NNSWLHD continues to remind the community to keep emergency departments and ambulances for saving lives and consider alternative options for minor conditions such as medical centres or GPs or calling the 24-hour telephone health advice HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.

Improved surgery performance

NSNWLHD also improved planned surgery performance in the first quarter of the year.

Of the 3,347 planned procedures performed during the quarter, the vast majority (80.7 per cent) were performed on time – an improvement of 13.3 percentage points compared with the same quarter in 2023 (67.4 per cent).

Almost all urgent planned surgeries (95.0 per cent) were performed on time.

At the end of the quarter the District reduced the number of patients waiting longer than clinically recommended for a planned surgery by 64 per cent (680 patients), with 382 patients waiting longer than clinically recommended for a planned surgery, compared with 1,062 patients at the end of March 2023.

NSWNWLHD says any patient who feels their condition may have deteriorated while waiting for their surgery is encouraged to contact their treating doctor who can review their condition and place them in a higher urgency category, if appropriate.

Helen Briggs is part of the development team at the the newly opened Tweed Valley Hospital. Photo Jeff Dawson.

New hospital

Earlier this month, the $723.3 million Tweed Valley Hospital officially opened to patients.

The new state of the art facility represents the largest capital health investment in the regions in NSW history, including capacity for 430 beds, almost 200 more beds than at the former hospital.

Further to the opening of the new hospital, residents in the Tweed now also have access to an urgent care service that eases pressure on EDs by providing care to people in their homes.

Next month the service will expand to operating 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm, to support people of all ages across the Tweed region to receive urgent care at home.

Where medically appropriate, patients will be referred to the urgent care service by calling HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.

Individual results

  • BALLINA DISTRICT HOSPITAL had 4,972 ED attendances during the quarter, an increase of 10.2 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2023. The majority of patients (60.3 per cent) started their ED treatment on time. More than seven in 10 patients (72.4 per cent) left the ED within four hours. More than eight in 10 patients (81.5 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.
  • BYRON CENTRAL HOSPITAL had 6,230 ED attendances for the quarter. The vast majority of patients (82.6 per cent) started their ED treatment on time and eight in 10 patients (81.3%) left the ED within four hours of arriving. More than nine in 10 patients (93.7 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.
  • CASINO & DISTRICT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL had 3,555 ED attendances in the quarter. The majority of patients (69.1 per cent) started treatment on time and more than eight in 10 patients (84.1 per cent) left the ED within four hours of arriving. More than nine in 10 patients (92.2 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.
  • GRAFTON BASE HOSPITAL had 7,187 ED attendances during this quarter. The majority of patients (59.3 percent) started treatment on time and almost seven in 10 patients (68.9 per cent) left the ED within four hours of arriving. More than eight in 10 patients (84.7 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.
  • LISMORE BASE HOSPITAL had 10,342 ED attendances during the quarter. The majority of patients (56.7 per cent) started their treatment on time. The majority of patients left the ED within four hours of arriving (52.4 per cent).
  • MACLEAN DISTRICT HOSPITAL had 4,094 ED attendances during the quarter. More than seven in 10 patients (73.5 per cent) started their treatment on time and more than eight in 10 (84.4 per cent) of patients left the ED within four hours. Nearly all patients (94.3 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.
  • MURWILLUMBAH DISTRICT HOSPITAL had 5,419 ED attendances during the quarter, the most on record, and an increase of 18.4 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2023. The vast majority of patients (86.2 per cent) started their treatment on time, and more than eight in 10 patients (85.4 per cent) left the ED within four hours of arriving. Almost all patients (95.8 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.
  • THE TWEED HOSPITAL had 14,677 ED attendances during the quarter, the highest on record. More than seven in 10 patients (76.5 per cent) started their treatment on time, and more than seven in 10 patients (70.5 per cent) left the ED within four hours of arriving. Eight in 10 patients (80.0 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.

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