WAITING TIME: Ambulance vehicles queued up outside the emergency department at Lismore Base Hospital.
WAITING TIME: Ambulance vehicles queued up outside the emergency department at Lismore Base Hospital.

Hospital standards below par

CUTS to nursing staff is putting patients at risk, the Opposition said yesterday citing the Government's own data.

It blamed the reduction of nursing positions for the failure of all but four of the state's hospitals, including Lismore Base, to meet Australian standards of treating patients at Emergency Departments within specific timeframes based on the seriousness of their condition.

The NSW Health Quarterly Hospital Performance Report released yesterday revealed treatment times at Lismore Base's Emergency Department has deteriorated as staffing levels have been reduced.

The State Government announced late last year that it would strip 400 jobs out of North Coast Area Health in an attempt to save $30 million - part of an overall budget cut to health of $200 million across the state.

According to the figures released yesterday only 59 per cent of patients with 'imminently life threatening' conditions were seen by medical staff at Lismore Base within the 10-minute target over the three months to June.

This compares with 83pc for the same period last year. For those with potentially life-threatening conditions 55pc were seen within the 30-minute standard, compared with 63pc last year. The figures are just as bad for people with potentially serious conditions, 57pc compared with 68pc last year.

The report also revealed that more than one in five patients arriving at Lismore in an ambulance were left waiting on stretchers for more than 30 minutes before they were admitted by the Emergency Department. This is up from 13pc last year.

The Northern Star has previously reported the ambulance union saying this has a flow-on effect, as ambulances cannot leave the hospital until patients are admitted, resulting in bottlenecks and the availability of ambulances to respond to emergency calls.

A North Coast Area Health spokesperson said the performance at Lismore Base was 'in line with the rest of the State'.

The spokesperson said the data 'appeared worse than it actually is' because of new technology.



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