Northern NSW Hospitals are continuing to perform well despite an increase in activity in what are already busy hospital Emergency Departments across the district.
The Bureau of Health Information’s latest quarterly report has found 53,799 people were seen in emergency departments across the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) between January and March 2019 – an increase of 1265 patients, or 2.4 per cent on the same quarter last year.
NNSWLHD Chief Executive, Wayne Jones, said staff should be proud of their high levels of performance and quality care during unprecedented levels of activity across the board.
“Our staff are doing an incredible job delivering the best level of patient care possible in increasingly busy conditions,” Mr Jones said.
“There were more than 1,260 extra presentations to our emergency departments in the first quarter of 2019, and an increase of almost 30 per cent in resuscitation cases – the highest priority emergency.”
“Despite these presentation increases, we still saw 77.6 per cent of patients treated on time and our median time for patients waiting in the emergency department only deteriorate by 2 minutes to around 2 hours.”
Patients arriving by ambulance to emergency department increased by 5.1 per cent on the same period last year.
With the additional emergency department presentations came an increase in need for surgery during the quarter.
Across Northern NSW, 3376 elective surgeries were performed between January and March 2019, an increase of 2.7 per cent (or 88 more procedures) compared to the same period last year. This included a 9 per cent increase in urgent elective surgery with a 20.8 per cent increase in urgent surgery at The Tweed Hospital alone.
Mr Jones said that while increased emergency presentations do place an added strain on hospital capacity which impacts on elective surgery, 99.9 per cent of urgent procedures were still preformed on time.
“We did see an increase in wait time for elective procedures at some of our sites,” Mr Jones said.
“The increase in emergency procedures means we need to prioritise resources and that bumps some non-urgent elective surgery procedures down the list.
“We are working hard to bring down the number of people on the waiting list and are developing a plan with our surgeons to address this.”
Despite an increase in elective surgery at Lismore, which was up 13.6 per cent, there were 51 fewer people (2.6 per cent) on the waiting list at the end of the quarter compared to the same time last year.
Between mid-2012 and mid-2018 NNSWLHD has increased its workforce by an additional 655 full time equivalent staff – an increase of more than 17 per cent, including 140 more doctors and 183 more nurses.
“With our capital works and infrastructure projects underway across the district, we are planning for the forecast growth in patient numbers and to deliver health care the community can be proud of,” Mr Jones said.
The NSW Government’s $582 million investment in local health services includes the new Tweed Valley Hospital as well as interim upgrades at the existing Tweed Hospital, and the $320 million redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital is nearing completion.
Those works, as well as future redevelopments at Ballina and Grafton, will set up the region to deliver the care needed for local residents in decades to come.
The 2018-19 budget for Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) is over $833 million, this is an increase of nearly $47 million on the 2017-18 budget. This is the highest increase in annualised expense budget out of all rural NSW Health Districts.
In 2018-19 the NSW Government is investing a record $22.9 billion in health, representing a $1.1 billion increase over the 2017-18 Budget. This includes $19.2 billion towards improving services in hospitals in NSW this year.
EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT ACTIVITY
Ballina: saw an 8.1 per cent increase in presentations, to a total of 4661. Despite the increase in presentations 81.5 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours, a stable result.
Byron Central: experienced a 5.1 per cent increase in presentations, 287 more patients. 79.5 per cent of patients started treatment on time and 82.2 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours. There was also a 41.7 per cent increase in resuscitation category patients, from 12 to 17 cases.
Casino: Had fewer presentations in total, down 70 cases to 3327 for the quarter, compared with 2018. The percentage of patients whose care was transferred from ambulance to emergency department staff within 30 minutes improved by 4.3 percentage points to 91.7 per cent, surpassing the state target. Access performance was also above target, with 87.9 per cent of patients leaving the emergency department within four hours.
Grafton: A three per cent increase in the number of presentations compared with the same period in 2018, at 6618 people. 80.3 per cent of patients started treatment on time, the same as this quarter in 2018. 79.5 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours.
Lismore: 4.5 per cent increase in the number of presentations compared with the same period in 2018, up to 9398. Lismore also saw an increase in resuscitation cases, up 76.7 per cent to 53 cases. The percentage of patients whose care was transferred from ambulance to ED staff within 30 minutes improved by three percentage points to 85.1 per cent.
Maclean: saw an 8.7 per cent increase in presentations, up to 3481, over the quarter compared to 2018, as well as a 13.7 per cent increase in the number of arrivals by ambulance. The number of resuscitation cases more than doubled, increasing from 7 to 16. 77.9 per cent of patients were treated on time and 85 per cent left the ED within four hours.
Murwillumbah: Emergency department presentations remained stable at over 4500 this quarter. 86.8 per cent of patients were treated on time and 87.7 per cent left the ED within four hours.
Tweed: Saw 13,491 ED presentations, 10 fewer than the same quarter last year. It also recorded a 7.1 per cent increase, from 2053 to 2199, in arrivals by ambulance. 79.7 per cent of patients were treated on time and 76.6 per cent left the ED within four hours.
ELECTIVE SURGERY PERFORMANCE
Ballina: 98.8 per cent of patients received their surgery on time this quarter, with 100 per cent of urgent procedures performed on time. There was also a 5.5 per cent drop in patients on the wait list at the end of the quarter (16 fewer).
Casino: 99.3 per cent of all 168 elective surgery procedures were performed on time for the quarter and 1.8 per cent fewer patients (- 5) were on the wait list.
Grafton: Decrease of 12.5 per cent, to 501, of patients having elective surgery this quarter, and 100 per cent of all patients received elective surgery on time.
Lismore: 1246 elective surgeries were performed at Lismore this quarter, representing a 13.6 per cent increase on last year (149 more). Despite the increase in activity, there were 51 fewer patients (-2.6 per cent) on the waiting list at the end of the quarter. There was also a slight increase in the percentage of elective surgeries performed on time compared to last year, to 93.6 per cent.
Murwillumbah: Surgery activity increased to 395, or 3.9 per cent more, procedures performed for the quarter (15 more). 100 per cent of urgent surgery was done on time.
Tweed: 3.1 per cent more elective surgeries were performed, up to 857 from 831, during the quarter, including a 20.8 per cent rise in urgent elective surgery. Despite this increase in demand, 84.2 per cent of all surgeries, and 99.6 per cent of urgent surgeries were performed on time.