North Coast

Emergency activity back to pre-pandemic levels

Hospitals in Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) performed better than the state average despite once again recording a high number of emergency department (ED) attendances in the latest Bureau of Information (BHI) Healthcare Quarterly report.

The District’s ED attendances returned to pre-pandemic levels during January to March 2021, with an increase of 814, or 1.5 per cent, to 55,303 attendances compared with the same quarter in 2020. This is NNSWLHD’s second highest number of ED attendances for any quarter on record.

Increases in presentations were seen in both the triage category 1 (resuscitation), with 11.1 per cent more presentations (up by 26 to 260) compared with the same quarter in 2020. In the triage category 2 (emergency), there were 12.1 per cent more presentations (up 634 to 5865) across the District.

Despite the increased pressure on the EDs, 74.6 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours, which is above the NSW average of 67.6 per cent. The median wait time to start treatment for triage category 2 (emergency) patients was eight minutes, two minutes below the NSW target of 10 minutes.

NNSWLHD Chief Executive Wayne Jones said trends in hospital activity and performance echoed the experience around the state.

“The efforts of our workforce over the last 15 months has been outstanding despite increased patient presentations, and additional challenges and changes as a result of COVID. It has not been easy, but our workforce has risen to the challenge,” Mr Jones said.

In the January to March 2021 quarter, 3,499 elective surgeries were performed, an increase of 2 per cent (or 70 more procedures) compared with the same quarter in 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost all (99.2 per cent) of the 757 urgent elective surgeries were performed on time.

“We’re focused on reducing our elective surgery wait list which was impacted by National Cabinet’s temporary pause on non-urgent surgeries in March last year. Our elective surgery activity is now back up to where it was pre-pandemic thanks to the outstanding efforts of our staff,” Mr Jones said.