12 June 2019
Between January and March this year public hospitals across NSW have experienced the busiest period of emergency department activity on record, with the early start to the flu season already making its impact felt.

The latest independent quarterly Bureau of Health Information figures on public hospital performance, released today, shows more than 750,000 patients presented to emergency departments during January to March 2019.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce said this was an increase of around 42,000 people, a 5.9 per cent increase from the same quarter in 2018 and higher than any previous quarter on record.

“While many people will remember the 2017 winter, our worst flu season on record, we saw thousands more patients this quarter, and these figures do not even show the full winter months,” Ms Pearce said.

Ms Pearce said despite the challenges posed by the record rise in patients, hospital performances across the state maintained a high standard, with nearly three-quarters of emergency department patients, 543,000 people, starting treatment on time.   

“While there is always room for improvement, it was pleasing to see that some of our hospitals improved their performance despite large increases in presentations and very unwell patients”.

“These results are a testament to the efforts of our doctors, nurses and paramedics, but NSW Health continues to urge people to get their flu shots to protect them during the cold days ahead, because it’s not too late, and the flu jab is an important step in reducing the risk of succumbing to the potentially lethal virus,” she said.

NSW Ambulance experienced a very busy quarter, responding to close to 307,000 responses, up by 10.2 per cent or an additional 28,359 responses, on 2018’s quarter.

Almost 170,000 patients in emergency departments arrived by ambulance, also a 10 per cent increase, and almost 90 per cent (88.8 per cent) were transferred from paramedics to hospital staff within the benchmark time of 30 minutes.

Ms Pearce said elective surgery also continued to lead the nation in elective surgery performance, with 96.4 per cent of all elective surgeries were performed within recommended time frames.

In 2018-19, the NSW Government is investing a record $22.9 billion in health, an increase of $1.1 billion on the previous financial year. This includes $19.2 billion towards improving services in hospitals in NSW this year.

An investment of $759 million for acute patient services will fund an additional 40,000 emergency department attendances in addition to 2.9 million already provided and an extra 3,200 elective surgeries in addition to the 225,500 already provided.

The NSW Government’s record $1 billion 2018-19 NSW Ambulance budget includes a commitment to provide an additional 700 paramedics and 50 Triple Zero control centre staff over the next four years.

The 2018-19 Budget also added 1,370 health staff, including 950 nurses and midwives, 300 medical practitioners and 120 allied health professionals – resulting in a record frontline clinical and clinical support staff of over 105,000.