Western Sydney emergency departments tackle busy holiday period

Team members from Westmead Hospital’s emergency department who worked over the holiday season.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) emergency departments have continued to provide timely patient care despite a busy holiday season.

Emergency departments at Auburn, Blacktown, Mount Druitt and Westmead hospitals treated more than 6,500 patients requiring emergency care from 21 December 2018 to 1 January 2019, representing a 1.6 per cent increase compared to last year’s holiday period.  

Blacktown Hospital treated almost 2,000 emergency department patients with nearly seven more ambulance arrivals per day over the holiday season, recording the highest increase in presentations at WSLHD hospitals (6.63 per cent).

Yesterday alone, Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals experienced some of the highest emergency presentations across the metropolitan system (322 patients) – an increase of 74 people requiring emergency care at these facilities compared to last year.

Members of the Westmead Hospital emergency team on Christmas day.

Westmead Hospital’s emergency department director Dr Matthew Vukasovic said his team treated 2,752 patients over the holiday period.

“Christmas day was particularly busy compared to last year. Westmead Hospital had a 13 per cent increase in overall presentations,” Dr Vukasovic said.

“Our emergency departments have done a magnificent job to manage the busy Christmas, New Year and holiday period.”

Western Sydney emergency departments improved emergency care in 2018 despite the highest growth in patient presentations across NSW.

An initiative known as Project Red at Blacktown and Westmead hospitals has revolutionised the way patients are treated by analysing and changing areas that have previously slowed treatment down.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed last month that NSW is the only jurisdiction to meet the target benchmark for all triage categories.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce said NSW leads with the shortest median waiting time for patients starting clinical care in the emergency department at just 15 minutes, compared to 46 minutes in the ACT.

The emergency department team at Blacktown Hospital has been acknowledged for the introduction of Project Red which has revolutionised emergency care.

“Not only are we leading the country in many emergency department performance measures but we have improved our performance for the people of NSW,” said Ms Pearce.

To reduce unnecessary burdens on busy emergency departments, people are reminded that where the matter is not of a serious or life-threatening nature, they should see their GP or medical centre.

For any advice or concerns, the public should remember that Healthdirect (1800 022 222) is always able to assist with medical advice at any time of the day or night.

In the case of a health emergency, people should call Triple Zero (000).

Everyone is encouraged to take simple measures and precautions to ensure a happy and healthy holiday season, by:

  • Moderating the consumption of alcohol during gatherings and celebrations;
  • Visiting their GP before going away and ensuring they have an adequate supply of prescription medications;
  • Taking additional care on the roads and when participating in outdoor recreational activities;
  • Keeping a close eye on elderly relatives with impaired mobility in unfamiliar surroundings;
  • Maintaining regular contact with the socially isolated;
  • Taking precautions on very hot days, such as maintaining hydration, minimising physical activity, wearing light clothing, avoiding alcohol, and staying indoors between 11am and 5pm, ideally in air conditioning, and
  • Supervising and keeping a watchful eye on children, particularly around water.

Westmead and Blacktown hospitals are home to extensive infrastructure investment. The $1 billion NSW Government Westmead Hospital project is the biggest in the state and the $750 million Blacktown Hospital project will be compete this 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, including $19.2 billion towards improving services in hospitals in NSW this year.

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