North Coast

HOSPITALS WEATHER SUMMER OMICRON PEAK

Patients in Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) continued to receive high quality care during the peak of the Omicron outbreak from January to March 2022 despite it being one of the most challenging quarters, thanks to the incredible efforts of the health staff.

The latest Bureau of Health Information report shows the impact of the peak in Omicron COVID-19 cases on hospitals in Northern NSW.

The January to March 2022 quarter was very challenging for NNSWLHD, as it responded to high numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community together with staff furloughing, changed border restrictions and testing requirements.

During this quarter, the region also experienced its worst ever flood emergency, which resulted in the loss of lives, significant damage to property, and access to health services being disrupted for staff and patients.

Across the District there were 51,843 emergency department attendances during the January to March 2022 quarter.

Nevertheless, more than seven in 10 patients (74.1 per cent) started treatment on time during the quarter, above the NSW state average of 70.5 per cent.

The majority of patients (78.6 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark, in line with the state average (also 78.6 per cent).

More than seven in 10 patients (73 per cent) left the ED within four hours. This is higher than the NSW average (62.3 per cent).

NNSWLHD Chief Executive Wayne Jones said the quarter had been particularly challenging for staff right across the District.

“The high COVID-19 case numbers in the community over New Year and into January resulted in complex presentations and admissions to our hospitals, and significant numbers of staff were unavailable due to being exposed to or contracting the virus, whether in the community or at work,” Mr Jones said.

“Our staff did an incredible job of adapting to the fast-changing and complex environment of managing COVID cases, providing testing facilities for our community, and continuing to provide excellent health care during one of the most challenging periods of the pandemic.

“Without the expertise and dedication of our colleagues, we could not have responded so well as a District, and I want to thank each and every staff member for their efforts.

“With the devastating floods in February and March, our region experienced significant disruption, and staff worked exceptionally hard to continue to deliver health services throughout this difficult period. They have gone above and beyond in their roles, and I

cannot praise them highly enough.”

In response to the Omicron outbreak, non-urgent elective surgery requiring an overnight stay was suspended from 10 January 2022 in public hospitals across NSW and resumed in a staged manner in February.

Due to the floods, elective surgery was once again paused in Northern NSW in late February and early March, due to ongoing transport and logistical issues for both patients

and staff in the region. Emergency surgery continued throughout the period.

Despite these suspensions, 1,414 elective surgeries were performed across the District and almost all urgent elective surgeries (94.5 per cent) were performed on time.

“Since the floods, we have been working closely with our private hospital partners to provide further opportunities for collaborative care with facilities in our region, allowing public patients to receive their surgery at a number of private hospitals,” Mr Jones said.

“We’ve also introduced new models of care in consultation with our surgeons and anaesthetists, such as a new 23-hour joint replacement program in Lismore. We’ll also be looking to expand our day only elective surgery models further in the future.”

Any patients who feel their condition has deteriorated while waiting for their procedure is encouraged to contact their doctor for a clinical review.

Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, NNSWLHD increased its workforce by an additional 1,219 full-time equivalent staff – an increase of 32.3 per cent including 211 more doctors 461 more nurses and midwives and 141 more allied health staff. The District is also set to get a major workforce boost as part of the 2022-23 Budget.

A record 10,148 full-time equivalent staff will be recruited to hospitals and health services across NSW over four years, as part of the NSW Government’s 2022-23 Budget. The $4.5 billion investment includes a $1.76 billion boost for NSW Ambulance to recruit 2,128 new staff and open 30 more stations.

In 2020-21 the NSW Government provided an extra $458.5 million to fast-track elective surgeries and $80 million was provided as part of the 2021-22 NSW Budget.

The NSW Government has committed more than $4 billion to the NSW health system to manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.

INDIVIDUAL HOSPITAL RESULTS

BALLINA DISTRICT HOSPITAL had 4,593 ED attendances during the quarter. The majority of patients (67.9 per cent) started their treatment on time. More than seven in 10 patients (76.2 per cent) left the ED within four hours. Further, eight in 10 patients (80 per

cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark.

BYRON CENTRAL HOSPITAL had 5,598 ED attendances, and 87.4 per cent of patients started their treatment on time, above the average for hospitals of a similar size in NSW (80.2 percent). More than eight in 10 patients (81.7 per cent) left the ED within four hours,

in line with comparable hospitals in NSW (81 per cent). Nearly all patients (92.7 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark, also in line with the average for hospitals of a similar size (92 per cent).

CASINO & DISTRICT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL had 3,400 ED attendances in the quarter.

The vast majority of patients (82.9 per cent) left the ED within four hours, slightly above the average for hospitals of a similar size in NSW (81 percent).

GRAFTON BASE HOSPITAL had 6,041 ED attendances during this quarter. The majority of patients (70.1 per cent) started their treatment on time, in line with the average for hospitals of a similar size in NSW (70.3 per cent). More than eight in 10 patients (86.9 per

cent) were transferred from ambulance to ED staff within the 30-minute benchmark, which is higher than the average for comparable hospitals in NSW (85 per cent).

LISMORE BASE HOSPITAL had 9,500 ED attendances during the quarter. The majority of patients (64.2 per cent) started treatment on time, slightly below the peer group average of 69.2 per cent.

MACLEAN DISTRICT HOSPITAL had 3,556 ED attendances during the quarter. More than eight in 10 patients (86.3 per cent) started their treatment on time, above the average for hospitals of a similar size in NSW (80.2 percent). Nearly all patients (91.4 per cent) left the ED within four hours, which is well above the average for comparable hospitals in NSW (81 per cent).

MURWILLUMBAH DISTRICT HOSPITAL had 4,288 ED attendances during the quarter.

The vast majority of patients (85.9 per cent) started their treatment on time, which is above the average for hospitals of a similar size in NSW (70.3 per cent). More than eight in 10 patients (84.8 per cent) left the ED within four hours, also higher than the average for

comparable hospitals in NSW (65.8 per cent).

THE TWEED HOSPITAL had 12,647 ED attendances during the quarter. The majority of patients (73.9 per cent) started their treatment on time, above the average for hospitals of a similar size in NSW (69.2 per cent).

X