15 December 2021

The third quarter of 2021 was one of the most challenging on record for NSW, as the Delta outbreak had a pronounced impact on the state’s health system. Despite this, NSW Health staff continued to deliver high-quality and safe care.

The latest Bureau of Health Information (BHI) Health Care Quarterly report shows staff performed exceptionally well under pressure, particularly in Sydney and the South West regions.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce, said while the Delta outbreak began in mid-June, its impact on the health system was at its peak during the three months of this report.

“Even in the face of a global pandemic, staff have remained dedicated to providing high-quality care and doing everything in their power to save lives. We owe them all a debt of gratitude,” Ms Pearce said.

“In August, NSW temporarily paused non-essential elective surgery so resources and capacity required for the COVID-19 response could be maintained during the outbreak.

“Despite this necessary pause on non-essential elective surgery, NSW Health still performed 44,750 elective surgeries in this quarter, with almost all urgent elective surgeries (99.7 per cent) and 87.2 per cent of non-urgent elective surgeries performed on time, despite the pressure of the pandemic.”

Ms Pearce said NSW public hospitals attendance was relatively steady, with 719,143 Emergency Department attendances during this period, around 1 per cent higher than the same quarter in 2020.

“However, the number of people requiring emergency care in Triage category 2 was higher than any other July to September since reporting began in 2010, with 100,113 presentations, an increase of 3234 or 3.3 per cent,” she said.

The best way for everyone in NSW to protect their health, the health of their loved ones, and to reduce the pressure on the health system and the fantastic workforce is by continuing to get vaccinated including receiving their booster.

The 2021-22 budget for NSW Health is $30.2 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion on the previous financial year’s budget.

In the 2021-22 Budget, the NSW Government announced $1.1 billion to continue the state’s response to COVID-19, including:

  • $340.0 million to fund personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement and associated warehouse costs to keep our frontline workers safe;
  • $261.3 million for COVID-19 vaccine distribution;
  • $200.0 million for pop-up clinics, testing and contact tracing;
  • $145.4 million for returning travellers in quarantine requiring medical assistance;
  • $80 million to continue additional elective surgery; and
  • $30.0 million for the ongoing enhanced level of cleaning within health facilities.

This takes the total commitment to the health system to manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to more than $4 billion since March 2020. Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, NSW Health has increased its workforce by an additional 25,278 full-time equivalent staff - an increase of 25 per cent including 3,736 more doctors (38.9 per cent), 9,599 more nurses and midwives (23 per cent) and 2,444 more allied health staff (27 per cent).