Patients wait longer for treatment as emergency departments face record attendances

Hospitals and ambulance services had busy first quarter, says new report

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RECORDS BROKEN: NSW emergency departments faced record attendances between January and March.

RECORDS BROKEN: NSW emergency departments faced record attendances between January and March.

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Patients arriving at NSW emergency departments by ambulance up 10 per cent.

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MORE people attended NSW emergency departments during January to March this year than at any previous quarter on record and they waited longer for treatment, according to the latest Bureau of Health Information (BHI) report.

There were more than 750,000 ED attendances across the state - 5.9 per cent more than the same quarter last year but the timeliness of care provided was down.

"Emergency departments across the state experienced high demand during the quarter, particularly from patients triaged as emergency or urgent, while there was also a notable 10 per cent increase in arrivals at emergency departments by ambulance," BHI chief executive Diane Watson said.

The report shows, compared with the same quarter last year, that about three in 10 ED patients (71.9 per cent) waited longer for treatment than clinically recommended time frames, up on the same period last year.

About three in 10 patients (70.6 per cent) spent more than four hours in EDs and almost nine in 10 patients (88.8 per cent) had their care transferred from paramedics to hospital staff within 30 minutes

"At NSW level, the timeliness of care provided to patients has declined from last year," said Dr Watson. "The results vary across hospitals - with some experiencing bigger drops than we see at NSW level, while others had stable or improved performance despite increased activity."

NSW Ambulance also experienced a very busy quarter, with more than 300,000 responses, up 10.2 per cent from the same quarter last year. More than 136,000 ambulance responses were categorised as emergencies and, of these, more than 6,000 responses were for life-threatening cases.

"This was a very busy quarter for our ambulance services, with an additional 28,000 responses compared with the same quarter last year. While we did see increases in response times for the broader emergency category, the median response time for life-threatening cases remained stable at seven and a half minutes," Dr Watson said.

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