Westmead Hospital has been named and shamed for having the worst emergency waiting times in NSW.
According to the Bureau of Health Information's latest report, more than 60 per cent of patients who presented to emergency between April to June were not treated within the clinically recommended timeframe, compared to 46 per cent 12 months ago. It also revealed that 47 per cent had not left emergency four hours after arrival.
“Westmead is one of the busiest hospitals and emergency departments in the state. It is also a major trauma centre for NSW,” general manager Andrew Newton said.
“The hospital has experienced a significant rise in emergency department presentations in the past 12 months. The hospital had 18,429 patients from April to June – up 4.2 per cent on the same quarter in 2016. Many of the patients who presented had much more complex conditions, requiring more extensive treatment, which impacted on timeframes.”
Medical staff and resources have been reallocated and new measures implemented, including a “traffic light” system to manage ED beds.
“These changes have significantly lifted patient treatment times since they were introduced in April,” Mr Newton said.
“Westmead Hospital’s emergency department is a busy place and we recognise the hard work of all our staff in providing excellent care for our patients. Western Sydney is the fastest growing region in Australia and we are investing $900 million at Westmead Hospital to cater to demand. Through the Westmead Redevelopment project, we are proactively planning to manage the increasing demand related to population growth.”
Mr Newton reiterated the recent message for patients with less urgent conditions to visit their GP before visiting the hospital emergency department.
People can also phone healthdirect Australia (1800 022 222), a free 24-7 telephone triage and advice line staffed by nurses.
Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said more people are flocking to emergency departments in increasing numbers because of the lack of access to after hours or bulk billing GPs.
“NSW health and hospitals – especially emergency departments – are under enormous pressure,” Mr Secord said.
“We are now finding that as well as western Sydney, the North Coast and South Coast hospitals are emerging as new pressure points due to the large elderly population and a baby boom.”
“Patients are flooding emergency department because they cannot get into a GP’s practice or they are unable to pay extra for a GP – putting unnecessary pressure on the state’s emergency departments. In desperation, families on tight budgets are turning to emergency departments. Under the Liberals and the Nationals, the health and hospital system lurches from crisis to crisis. Sadly, patients wait at every stage in NSW. They wait for an ambulance; they wait outside the emergency department and they wait inside the emergency department. They wait for a bed and then they are discharged early to make room for other patients.”