Patient numbers in NSW emergency departments have increased by 25% in the past five years, according to a new report by the Bureau of Health Information. The time taken to treat the seriously unwell has also increased in the past quarter, with 15% of all ambulances getting stuck in ‘bed block’ – where the hospital is too full to admit their patients.
The state’s hospitals are also failing to meet federal targets to treat or discharge 90% of all emergency department patients within four hours, with even fewer EDs hitting the target from April to June this year compared to the same period last year.
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner stated earlier this week that the health system is under “extreme pressure”, with the current situation set to worsen further. Following the release of the BHI report, she said:
“Compared to the same quarter last year, 11,926 extra patients visited our emergency departments, 3,458 extra patients were admitted from the emergency department and 250 more elective surgeries were performed.”
Increase in minor injuries
The report found that minor injuries are accounting for a large proportion of emergency admissions, with 30,000 people attending Hunter EDs with triage category 4 or 5 issues in the last three months. These included small cuts, ear aches and sprained ankles.
Theses presentations accounted for 50% of the workload for eight different EDs in the Hunter between April and June this year.
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