Home | Radio+TV | News | Wait times grow in NSW emergency wards

Wait times grow in NSW emergency wards

A record number of people are presenting to NSW emergency departments and many are waiting longer for treatment - a situation doctors say is unsustainable.

The latest official data, released on Wednesday, shows there were more than 756,000 attendances at hospital emergency departments across the state in the first three months of 2019.

That was 42,247 - or almost six per cent - higher than during the same period in 2018 and the busiest quarter on record.

The Bureau of Health Information report also the found median time patients spent in the ED jumped 12 minutes, while the number of people treated within clinically-recommended timeframes fell 4.3 per cent.

"At NSW level, the timeliness of care provided to patients has declined from last year," the bureau's chief executive Diane Watson said in a statement.

Ambulances were also kept busy during the quarter, with paramedics responding to more than 307,000 cases - 10 per cent higher than during the same period in 2018.

Despite this, the median response time for life-threatening cases remained at seven-and-a-half minutes.

The number of people on the waiting list for elective surgery stands at 83,625, up eight per cent.

The Australian Medical Association's NSW president said the rate of growth in patient numbers in emergency departments was not sustainable.

"We have effectively seen one-tenth of the population of NSW go through our emergency departments over the first three months of this year," Kean-Seng Lim said in a statement.

NSW Health attributed part of the increase in attendances to the early start of the flu season.

Deputy secretary Susan Pearce insists hospitals are maintaining a high standard in care, despite the record rise in patient numbers.

"While there is always room for improvement, it was pleasing to see that some of our hospitals improved their performance despite large increases in presentations and very unwell patients," she said in a statement.

NSW Labor labelled the figures "damning", particularly for Northern Beaches Hospital - noting that more than 40 per cent of patients were not treated on time at the new, $600 million facility.

"There is no way Premier Gladys Berejiklian or Health Minister Brad Hazzard can claim after five months that these are just `teething problems'," opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said in a statement.

"This clearly shows that the problems at the Northern Beaches Hospital are systemic."

Mr Secord last week successfully moved for a parliamentary inquiry into the operation and management of the hospital.

The report said performance results for the hospital should be interpreted "with caution" because of the challenges with implementing its new information system.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *