Emergency department: Western NSW presentation to EDs are increasing

BOOM TIME: Thousands of extra patients have been filling Western NSW hospital emergency departments, new data shows. Photo: FILE
BOOM TIME: Thousands of extra patients have been filling Western NSW hospital emergency departments, new data shows. Photo: FILE

EMERGENCY departments in Western NSW has been swamped with an earlier-than-usual flu season and thousands of extra patients, new data shows.

During the first quarter of this year, 46,938 people attended one of the region's EDs - a 5.1 per cent increase on the 44,658 during the same quarter last year.

Of those, 233 attendances were for a resuscitation (up 3.6 per cent) and there was 4690 presentations for a life-threatening emergency (up 7.6 per cent).

The latest Bureau of Health Information quarterly report reveals every ED in the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) experienced an increase in patient numbers during January to March.

The biggest jump was in at Lachlan Health Service - Forbes which had a 23.5 per cent increase in presentations (from 1664 patients to 2055).

WNSWLHD chief executive Scott McLachlan said despite the increase, 86.2 per cent of patients in Forbes were treated within clinically recommended time frames.

GRAPH: Story continues under data

Mudgee's ED had the second highest growth in presentations, with an 11.9 per cent spike, with numbers growing from 2699 to 3019 people.

Bathurst and Cowra EDs each had an eight per cent increase in presentations, with numbers climbing from 6262 to 6763, and 1721 to 1858 respectively.

Bathurst Hospital general manager Cathy Marshall said a number of strategies had been put in place in the ED.

"This has included using nurse practitioners, working with medical staff where required, to care for less urgent cases," she said.

A physiotherapist assesses and treats some sporting and muscular injuries, and an after hours GP clinic operates on site.

Patient numbers in Orange's ED jumped by 6.8 per cent (7297 to 7792).

Dubbo's ED was by far the busiest during the reporting period, but it experienced the smallest growth in presentations, up by 6.2 per cent from 8085 to 8588.

General manager of Dubbo Hospital, Debra Bickerton, said the ED had been extremely busy during this period and despite the increase in presentations 72.7 per cent of people were treated on time.

Lithgow Hospital's ED, which is located in the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, experienced a 7.9 per cent jump in presentations (from 3059 to 3301).

Despite the flood of sick and injured people into EDs across Western NSW, every hospital treated the most urgent cases within clinically recommended time frames.

Mr McLachlan said the district had performed well in key areas and demonstrated that local hospitals could handle complex emergency cases.

"Getting patients to hospitals that can provide the right level of care is critical, particularly when there is a very severe injury or illness," he said.

"It's testament to the work of our staff, and the investment in our hospitals that we can see our role in complex emergency work strengthening."

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