Western Sydney best improved in emergency care

Medical officer Dr Amal Shandil, medical officer Dr Supriya Chhabra, registered nurse, Jasmine Nijhar, NUM emergency department Camille Dooley, emergency medicine director Associate Professor Reza Ali.

Western Sydney patients are getting faster emergency treatment than ever, despite demand for care growing at almost twice the rate of other regions in the state.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) executive director of operations Robynne Cooke thanked staff for their hard work and dedication.

“Western Sydney patients are starting their treatment earlier, spending far less time in our emergency departments and being transported into hospital from ambulances much quicker than in 2017,” Ms Cooke said.

“During April to June 2018, an extra 7,000 people left our emergency departments within four hours of presenting to one of our hospitals compared to the same time last year – representing a 26 per cent improvement.

“In addition, almost 8,000 more people started their treatment within the required timeframe, compared with the same quarter last year.

“In the April to June quarter, there were more than 13,000 ambulance arrivals – that’s one every 10 minutes – and 92.8 per cent of these patients were transferred to ED staff within 30 minutes, up 5.6 percentage points on the same time last year.

“This level of performance means more ambulances are getting back on the road quicker to respond to other patients.”

The 2018-19 budget for Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is approximately $1.8 billion, this is an increase of over $78.1 million on the 2017-18 annualised budget.  

Between mid-2012 and mid-2018 WSLHD increased its workforce by an additional 968 additional full time equivalent staff – an increase of over 10 per cent, including 235 more doctors and 486 more nurses.

Blacktown Hospital’s performance was a stand-out, with the median time patients spent in the emergency department reducing by almost half an hour (26 minutes).

Seventy-one per cent of patients are leaving Blacktown Hospital’s emergency department within four hours, representing an 18 percentage point improvement from the same time last year. 

At Mount Druitt Hospital, despite growth in demand more than twice the state average, 80 per cent of patients left the emergency department within four hours – an 11 per cent improvement from the same period last year.

“An initiative known as Project Red has revolutionised the way we treat patients.  Project Red has closely examined patient flow through our hospitals and rectified areas that can slow a patient’s treatment down,” Ms Cooke said.

“We expect our performance to continue to vastly improve thanks to this initiative.” 

Westmead and Blacktown hospitals are in the midst of multi-million dollar redevelopment projects. The $1 billion NSW Government Westmead Hospital project is the biggest in the state and the $750 million Blacktown Hospital project is set to transform the facility into a major metropolitan hospital. 

Emergency departments are for emergencies only. WSLHD encourages patients with less urgent conditions such as minor illnesses, rashes, aches and pains to visit their GP. They can also phone healthdirect Australia (1800 022 222), a free telephone advice line staffed by registered nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

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.

In the past 12 months, about 160 nursing and midwifery staff have been recruited to Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals.

The 2018/19 State Budget is adding a further 1,370 health staff, including 950 nurses and midwives, 300 medical practitioners and 120 allied health professionals.