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Beds and more bodies key to better emergency care

Survey asked emergency care staff in NSW to voice their priorities. By Linda Belardi.

Delayed patient access to beds and inadequate staffing continue to be the critical challenges facing emergency care in NSW, a statewide survey shows.

Increasing demand for emergency care services and the lack of access to primary and community care were the other key issues.

The survey of more than 1000 NSW emergency staff canvassed the views of this specialty health area to help inform the priorities of the newly created body, the Emergency Care Institute.

More than 50 per cent of respondents in all staffing groups – doctors, nurses and allied health workers  listed bed ‘access block’ and a lack of staffing as the biggest challenges facing emergency care at the moment.

Staff were also concerned about the impact of key performance indicators and the challenge of identifying appropriate measures.

Respondents felt improved relationships with management was needed while excessive health bureaucracy also got a mention, especially amongst doctors.

Of the 1092 people that took part in the survey, 73 per cent said they worked in an emergency department. Nurses made up more than 50 per cent of respondents.

While a higher percentage of medical staff identified excessive health bureaucracy as a challenge, nurses frequently cited education and professional development as a prominent issue for them.

But overall, a lack of staff convincingly topped the priority list for nurses and lobbying for more staff was an important outcome.

Nurses most strongly identified violence and aggression as issues to be looked at although this was not one of the top five issues.

Administrative staff had the highest percentage of respondents stating that inefficient hospital systems and poor communication between departments needed to be tackled as an area of priority.

The ECI, established in March 2011, is part of the Agency for Clinical Innovation and is designed to support the delivery of emergency care in NSW.

Read the full survey report at: www.ecinsw.com.au/eci-survey

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