Western Sydney surgery record, Blacktown ED on the rise: New report

Blacktown Hospital emergency department staff, pictured in 2018.

Public hospitals throughout NSW performed more elective surgery than ever before during the July to September 2020 quarter, despite COVID-19 challenges, with Blacktown Hospital among the state’s best performers.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is on track to have no patients overdue for surgery by the end of the year due to the incredible work of the surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, and bookings and admissions team.

The latest Bureau of Health Information (BHI) Healthcare Quarterly report released today shows WSLHD performed 6,040 elective surgery procedures in July-September this year – 728 more than the same quarter in 2019.

More than 80 per cent of those were performed on time, including 99.8 per cent of urgent procedures which must be done within 30 days.

Blacktown and Auburn hospitals both contributed significantly, respectively recording a 30 per cent and 23 per cent rise in the number of procedures performed compared to last year.

Westmead Hospital surgery bookings team members (from left) Sejal Mahant, Marie Ivy Rodrigues, Farwa Raza and Caren Munoz.

“I would like to thank and praise all our staff for their incredible work this year as we faced unprecedented challenges during this pandemic,” WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy said.

“Our operating theatres performed at the highest levels ever seen to ensure we can get through the elective surgery demand. All the medical, nursing and administration staff deserve recognition for this phenomenal effort.”

The report also showed that WSLHD emergency departments (ED) saw nearly 47,000 people from July to September, and more than two-thirds started their treatment on time.

Blacktown Hospital in particular showed substantial improvement. Three-quarters of patients started their treatment on time in the ED, up 18.7 per cent compared to the same time in 2019.

On March 26 the Australian Government suspended all non-urgent surgery in order to prepare hospitals for a predicted surge of COVID-19 patients.

Westmead Hospital operating theatre staff pictured in 2019 (from left) Rijan Sapkota, Maria Mendoza, Dr Nicholas Dilley, Xue (Karen) Bai, Jane Lazatin, Dr Samuel Boyers and YeanYoke Soo.

That necessary decision saw the NSW elective surgery waitlist blow out to more than 101,000 patients at the end of June, but by the end of September it was down to 95,000.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce said the BHI report shows the health system is recovering well from nationally imposed restrictions.

“When you look at the challenges facing overseas hospitals, the effort of NSW in quadrupling ICU capacity, managing presentations and pushing through surgery is remarkable,” Ms Pearce said.

“Almost 100 per cent of urgent surgery was performed on time (99.8%) and more elective surgical procedures were performed this quarter than in any other quarter over the last five years.

“We needed to act decisively to address the impact of a pause in non-urgent surgeries on our waiting lists that was introduced Australia-wide in March, which we did and are continuing to do.”

Figures show public hospitals performed almost 65,000 elective surgeries in the July to September quarter, up by 2,581 or 4.2 per cent on the same quarter in 2019, when there was no COVID-19.

The NSW Government has invested an additional $3 billion since March to help NSW Health manage the impacts of COVID-19, bringing the 2020-21 Health budget to a record $29.3 billion.