Lismore Base Hospital's emergency department has seen its busiest quarter.
Lismore Base Hospital's emergency department has seen its busiest quarter.

Near record activity for Northern NSW hospitals

EMERGENCY departments (ED) in Northern NSW have seen their busiest quarter on record from July to September 2019, which has been attributed to the longest flu season in NSW since the 2009 pandemic.

This is according to the latest Bureau of Health Information report, where it revealed Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) experienced its second busiest quarter on record from July to September 2019, with 54,559 emergency department (ED) presentations – an increase of 3,333 patients, or 6.5 per cent, on the same period last year.

NNSWLHD Chief Executive Wayne Jones said increases in demand were being experienced right across the District, with every hospital recording a jump in activity.

“This is not a case of huge outliers pushing averages up, but big increases across the board,” Mr Jones said.

“Every single one of our hospitals had increases in emergency presentations and the number of ambulances arriving.”

The District also recorded a 24.6 per cent rise in triage category 1 (resuscitation) presentations, the most urgent category for patients arriving at the ED. There were 8,433 ambulance arrivals, 634 more than the same quarter in 2018.

Despite the large increase in emergency presentations, 78.3 per cent of patients were seen, treated, and left the ED within four hours, which was significantly better than the state average of 68.1 per cent.

Lismore and Grafton base hospitals had their busiest quarter on record, with 10,189 and 6,893 ED presentations respectively.

Six out of the eight sites in the district recorded increases of more than five per cent for ED presentations on the same quarter last year.

Mr Jones praised the commitment of staff to delivering excellent care throughout the increased activity.

“Even with more people coming through our doors, we’re still among the top performing local health districts,” he said.

The 2019-20 budget for Northern NSW Local Health District is over $875 million, an increase of over $37 million on the 2018-19 budget.

SITE PERFORMANCE (July-September 2019)

Lismore Base Hospital had their busiest quarter on record, with an increase of 6.5 per cent on the same quarter last year to 10,189 emergency department presentations.

1,379 elective surgery procedures were performed, with 100 per cent of urgent procedures and 93.6 per cent of semi-urgent procedures performed on time.

Casino District and Memorial Hospital had 3,761 emergency department presentations in July to September 2019, an increase of 24.6 per cent.

Elective surgery procedures increased by 15.7 per cent compared to the same quarter last year, to 226, and 98.7 per cent of all elective procedures were performed on time.

Byron Central Hospital saw increased activity across the board, with 5,103 ED presentations (up 7.4 per cent), including 557 arrivals by ambulance (up 7.9 per cent). Despite increased activity, the percentage of patients starting treatment on time improved by 4.9 per cent.

Ballina District Hospital had 4,482 emergency department presentations, an increase of 7.6 per cent from the same quarter in 2018.

100 per cent of urgent surgeries and 97.7 per cent of semi-urgent surgeries were performed on time, an excellent result and an improvement on last year.

Tweed Hospital saw 13,648 ED presentations and 2,399 arrivals by ambulance – increases of 11.4 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively on the same period last year.

There were significant increases in the most urgent presentations, with 11.4 per cent, 16 per cent, and 10.7 per cent more patients triaged as requiring resuscitation (T1), emergency (T2), or urgent (T3) care respectively.

Despite increasing demand, the median time to leave the ED and the percentage of patients leaving the ED within four hours has remained stable.

The hospital recorded the highest quarterly figure for elective surgeries in the July to September quarter. There was an 18.5 per cent increase in elective surgeries performed, to 1,011, compared to the same quarter last year. The Tweed Hospital improved its elective surgery performance, with 100 per cent of all urgent elective surgeries performed on time.

Murwillumbah District Hospit al had a 5.2 per cent increase in ED presentations compared to the same quarter in 2018. This reflects 234 more presentations, taking the total to 4,719 presentations.

Although the number of urgent elective surgeries increased by more than 36 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2018, 100 per cent of procedures were completed on time.

Maclean District Hospital saw 3,540 ED presentations, an increase of 17.7 per cent on the same quarter in 2018, and a 15.5 per cent increase in ambulance arrivals, up to 521.

Maclean District Hospital continues to perform well in elective surgery performance, with 100 per cent of elective surgeries performed on time.

Grafton Base Hospital had 6,893 emergency department presentations, its busiest quarter on record, and an increase of 3.6 per cent on the same quarter last year.

There were 571 elective surgery procedures performed in the July to September quarter, with 100 per cent of urgent and semi-urgent procedures performed on time.



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