Emergency measures are being put in place at Wollongong Hospital after a rapid rise in patient presentations.
There were 17,067 presentations to the hospital’s emergency department from April to June, an increase of 1149 people or 7.2 per cent on the same period last year.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) executive director clinical operations Margaret Martin said a number of initiatives were being introduced to improve patient access and flow through the region’s EDs.
“At Wollongong Hospital, the ED continues to review its systems and models of care and develop new initiatives to maintain and improve on its performance,” she said.
“The initiatives include the commencement of emergency department technicians shifts. who are trained to start initial assessment of a patient under supervision of a nurse or medical officer and who will help with movement of patients through the department.”
Despite the spike in presentations, Ms Martin said the latest Bureau of Health Information’s Hospital Quarterly report also outlined areas where Wollongong’s ED performed well.
For instance, nearly 93 per cent of patients arriving to the hospital by ambulance had their care transferred to hospital staff within 30 minutes.
However, the BHI figures also showed that 33 per cent of patients presenting to the ED waited for longer than four hours to be treated and leave.
Ms Martin said the pressure on EDs had been felt district-wide, with almost 38,000 emergency presentations from April to June – 1500 more people than the same quarter last year.
“Despite increasing demand, performance remains steady, with about seven out of 10 people across the district leaving the emergency department within four hours,” she said.
Elective surgery was also busy throughout the quarter, with 3831 procedures performed across the district – the majority (1840) at Wollongong Hospital.
Ms Martin said 100 per cent of ‘urgent’ surgeries across the district were completed on time. Meantime nearly 90 per cent of semi-urgent and non-urgent surgeries were done on time.
“More elective surgery procedures were performed across ISLHD, with nearly 580 more surgeries, an increase of 17.8 per cent on the same period last year.”
However at the end of the quarter just over 5750 patients remained on the waiting list for elective surgery.
Ms Martin said the 2018-19 budget for the district was over $951 million, an increase of nearly $47.8 million on the 2017-18 budget.
Furthermore, between June 2012 and June 2018 the workforce had increased by 917 FTE staff.