Paul Keleher

Waiting times too long at Coffs Emergency Dept

HELENA Johnston says the problems with waiting times in Coffs Harbour's Emergency Department (ED) are at both ends.

The July-September 2008 figures for Coffs Harbour ED show while 100 per cent of the most urgent cases were seen within two minutes, less urgent cases could face long waits and only 63 per cent of ED patients needing admission were transferred to a ward less than eight hours after treatment began.

Dr Johnson, the clinical director of the Mid North Coast Division of General Practice, said the hospital often operated at 85-90 per cent capacity and part of the problem was trying to get departing patients out by 10am so new patients could be admitted.

She said the Division was trying to come up with strategies to help and many GP practices had introduced practice nurses while the Division supported the medical specialist outreach team and the after hours medical centre.

She said there was a lot of debate about the number of GPS in the city and while the ratio of patients to GPs was higher here than in Sydney and not all doctors bulk-billed there were still doctors whose books were open and the Division was trying to work out a way to advertise them.

She said bulk-billed X-rays were also now available in Coffs Harbour.

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