Community News

Northern NSW hospitals performing for patients

Patients are seeing improvements across busy hospital Emergency Departments and in elective surgery waiting times according to the latest snapshot of hospital performance in Northern NSW.

The Bureau of Health Information’s Report has found 51,239 people were seen in emergency departments across the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) between July and September 2018

NNSWLHD Chief Executive, Wayne Jones, said overall 79.4 per cent, or almost 41,000 of those patients started treatment on time, a significant improvement compared to the same quarter last year.

78.9 per cent of patients left emergency departments within four hours of presentation, an increase of 2.7 percentage points on last year.

“We continue to see big numbers of patients through the doors at Northern NSW hospitals and our staff are doing an incredible job delivering the best level of patient care possible,” Mr Jones said.

Across Northern NSW, 3,841 elective surgeries were performed between July and September 2018, an increase of 4.1 percent (or 153 more) compared to the same period last year.

95 per cent of those patients had their elective surgery within the clinically recommended timeframe, with 99.5 per cent of urgent surgeries completed on time.

The 2018-19 budget for NNSWLHD is more than $833 million, an increase of nearly $47 million on the 2017-18 annualised budget. This is the highest increase in annualised expense budget out of all rural NSW Health Districts.

Between mid-2012 and mid-2018 NNSWLHD has increased its workforce by an additional 655 full time equivalent staff – an increase of more than 17 per cent, including 140 more doctors and 183 more nurses.

More patients are being transferred from ambulance to emergency department within 30 minutes, at 88.8 per cent that’s an improvement of 3.7 percentage points on the same period last year.

Six hospitals featured in the report saw improvement in the numbers of patients starting treatment on time, with Lismore Base, Ballina District, and Casino recording the best improvements of more than five per cent.

“With more capital works and infrastructure projects underway across the district, we are planning for growth in patient numbers and to deliver health care the community can be proud of,” Mr Jones said.

“A $7.35 million upgrade is currently nearing completion at Ballina District Hospital, as well as a $400,000 refurbishment to the emergency department to improve facilities for our staff to be able to continue meeting demand into the future,” Mr Jones said.

The NSW Government’s $582 million investment in local health services includes the new Tweed Valley Hospital as well as interim upgrades at the existing Tweed Hospital.

That work will ensure the health needs of the population of the Tweed-Byron region can be met for decades to come.


It will deliver an expanded emergency department, enhanced surgical and ambulatory services and additional inpatient capacity. Additionally, the new hospital will include an integrated cancer care service, including radiotherapy, as well as a diagnostic and interventional cardiology service.

The Tweed Valley Hospital will be the hub for the majority of specialist medical, surgical, procedural and outpatient clinics and other community-based health services.

In 2018-19 the NSW Government is investing a record $22.9 billion in health, representing a $1.1 billion increase over the 2017-18 Budget. This includes $19.2 billion towards improving services in hospitals in NSW this year.

Emergency Department activity

Ballina: saw a 5.1 per cent decrease in presentations, (210 people), while the time to treatment for patients improved significantly across all categories. 82.1 per cent of patients started treatment on time, up nine percentage points on last year, and 80.8 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours, up from 73.5 per cent last year.

Byron Central: experienced a 6.5 per cent decrease in presentations, 184 fewer patients. 80.8 percent of patients started treatment on time and 81.6 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours.

Casino: Had fewer presentations for the quarter, with a 16.5 per cent decrease on 2017. 76.8 percent of patients had their treatment start on time, an increase of 5.7 percentage points on last year. The percentage of patients whose transfer of care time was within the target (30 mins) increased by 5.5 percentage point to 91.3 per cent this quarter.

Grafton: A 2.2 per cent decrease in the number of presentations compared with the same period in 2017, at 6,654 people. 74.4 per cent of patients started treatment on time, up from 69.9 per cent in 2017. 77.9 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours, a slight increase on 2017.

Lismore: 5.7 per cent increase in the number of presentations compared with the same period in 2017, up to 9,570. There was a huge improvement in patients starting treatment on time, up 15.9 percentage points to 75.8 per cent this quarter. 68.4 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours, a significant improvement compared to 59.5 per cent last year. The percentage of patients whose transfer of care time was within target (30 mins) also improved significantly, by 11.7 percentage points, up to 86.6 percent this quarter.


Maclean: saw a 2 per cent decrease in presentations over the quarter compared to 2017. More patients started treatment on time, 73.3 per cent, and the percentage of patients who left the ED within four hours also increased to 85.8 per cent, up 5.2 percentage points on last year.
Murwillumbah: Had 7 per cent fewer presentations this quarter, with 4488 patients. 89.1 per cent of patients were treated on time and 86.8 per cent left the ED within four hours.


Tweed: Saw 13,133 ED presentations, representing 1.4 percent fewer than the same quarter last year. 80.8 percent of patients started treatment on time, up 3.9 percentage points on last year, and 76.6 percent of patients left the ED within four hours.

Elective surgery performance

Ballina: 97.4 per cent of patients received their surgery on time this quarter, with 100 per cent of urgent procedures completed on time.


Casino: 97.5 per cent of all 230 elective surgery procedures were performed on time for the quarter. 100 per cent of urgent patients had their surgery on time, an improvement of 14.3 percentage points compared to last year.


Grafton: Increase of 0.9 per cent of patients, to 561, received elective surgery this quarter, and 99.6 per cent of all patients received elective surgery on time.


Lismore: 1,454 elective surgeries were performed at Lismore this quarter, representing a 20.2 per cent increase on last year (244 more).


Murwillumbah: Surgery activity increased slightly to 441, with 2.1 percent more procedures performed for the quarter (9 more).


Tweed: 6.7 per cent fewer elective surgeries were performed during the quarter, with 96.1 percent of all surgeries, and 99.3 percent of urgent surgeries, performed on time.

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