THE Mid North Coast Health District said it has implemented new strategies to improve Emergency Department waiting times in Coffs Harbour.
THE Mid North Coast Health District said it has implemented new strategies to improve Emergency Department waiting times in Coffs Harbour. Trevor Veale

Hospital's new strategies to combat long ED wait times

THE Mid North Coast Health District said it has implemented new strategies to improve Emergency Department waiting times in Coffs Harbour, with the latest statistics showing 31% of patients waited longer than four hours to receive treatment.

The latest Bureau of Health Information's Healthcare Quarterly report reveals the longer wait times have also coincided with an increase of 1.3 per cent in people attending the ED between April and June this year.

MNCLHD Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick said it is an important priority for the health district to reduce waiting times.

"Coffs Harbour Health Campus saw an increase... in Emergency Department presentations and strategies have been put in place to improve patient treatment time including the addition of a Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Department and a weekend physiotherapist during the winter months,” he said.

According to Mr Dowrick staff are also monitoring weekend discharge rates and adherence to the direct admission policy to improve the time to move patients to the hospital ward.

"We will continue to work closely with clinicians to improve waiting times for patients visiting our emergency departments,” he said.

Mr Dowrick said while less urgent presentations to the ED have declined compared to last year, there are still patients coming for non-emergency reasons who could receive treatment more appropriately from services such as their GP or local pharmacy.

In the last six years, MNCLHD has increased its workforce by an additional 686 full time equivalent staff - an increase of over 25 per cent, including 88 more doctors and 306 more nurses.

Overall, across the Mid North Coast, 77.5 per cent of patients left EDs within four hours of arriving.

Mr Dowrick said the report also reveals the MNCLHD continues to make effective use of its Network operations between its larger base hospitals and smaller district facilities.

"The Local Health District provided elective surgical services to 2,777 patients in the April to June 2018 quarter, with 99.1 per cent of procedures performed within the clinically recommended timeframes, up by 1.7 percentage points.”

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.



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