The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has released its latest Healthcare Quarterly Report showing the activity and performance of public health services in NSW from April to June 2022.
BHI acting chief executive Hilary Rowell said patients typically waited longer for hospital and ambulance services during the quarter as activity remained at historically high levels in most parts of the system.
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“NSW’s health services remained under pressure from April to June, with ongoing COVID-19 case numbers and the start of the winter flu season,” Ms Rowell said.
There were 375,215 triple-zero (000) calls to an ambulance and 333,927 responses, up 21.1 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively, from the same quarter of 2019.
“Demand for ambulance operations remained high, particularly for patients requiring emergency care (P1), and patients waited longer for an ambulance than at any quarter since BWI reports began in 2010,” Ms Rowell said.
Half of the 175,892 responses to emergency patients took more than 16.3 minutes — the longest since 2010.
Additionally, the response time for half of the 12,134 highest priority (P1A) cases was more than 9.1 minutes.
There were 793,987 emergency room visits (ED), a 5.2 percent increase compared to April-June 2019, but down from the April-June 2021 record high.
About six out of ten patients (62.8 percent) were seen on time, the lowest since BHI began reporting in 2010.
The number of patients who left without or before completing treatment (76,117) increased by 67.6 percent compared to 2019 and was an all-time high.
This includes patients who were triaged but left the emergency department before treatment began and patients who started treatment but left before it was complete.
“Our additional analysis shows that one in five patients leaving treatment with no treatment or before treatment is complete tends to present again to an emergency department within three days,” Ms. Rowell said.
72.5 percent of patients who arrived at an emergency room by ambulance had their care turned over to emergency room staff within 30 minutes.
From April to June 2022, 53,712 elective surgeries were performed.
“Fewer elective surgeries were performed than the historically high numbers a year earlier, but activity increased 41.1 percent (15,649) compared to January-March 2022, when non-urgent surgeries were suspended for a period,” Frau said Rowell.
Wait times for non-urgent surgeries continued to increase – half of these patients waited more than 339 days before surgery.
At the end of June, 98,625 patients were on the waiting list, down 2.3 percent (2,286) from the end of March.
At the end of the quarter, 18,748 patients had waited longer than clinically recommended for elective surgery, the highest since BWI began reporting in 2010.
Port Stephens member Kate Washington told News Of The Area: “Our local hospitals are going through a crisis.
“I hear every day from people in Port Stephens who are not getting the healthcare they deserve in times of need.
“More of our residents are being taken to the new Maitland hospital by ambulance and the situation there is rapidly deteriorating.
“It’s a shocking fact that one in four people leave the emergency room before they’ve even been seen by a doctor because of the long wait times.
“Tomaree Community Hospital is so neglected by NSW’s Liberal Government that it is unable to meet the community’s healthcare needs.
“Our hard-working nurses, doctors and health workers are doing all they can, but they are so understaffed and overworked that the pressure they are under is putting lives at risk.
“Our on-site caregivers have been crying out desperately for help for months.
“They saw this situation coming because they experience it every day. It is shameful that the NSW Liberal Government has refused to act,” she said.
By Marian SAMPSON