$2.8 million to reduce emergency wait times in western Sydney hospitals

Westmead Hospital is one of three sites in western Sydney for a new research project that aims to improve emergency department treatment.

Westmead, Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals are the subject of a new $2.8 million research project that aims to improve the safety and quality of care in emergency departments.

Macquarie University will lead this project addressing the needs of people with complex health conditions, who often spend longer than average there and have worse outcomes than the general population when they attend an emergency department — including greater likelihood of multiple return visits.

This includes people who:

  • are older
  • have a disability
  • present with a mental health condition
  • are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • come from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds

Macquarie University has been awarded $2,836,550 from the Medical Research Future Fund for this 5-year project led by Associate Professor Robyn Clay-Williams at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation.

The innovative and highly collaborative project will work to improve people’s experience while they are in the emergency department, reduce their length of stay and improve their care outcomes — including receiving a diagnosis or treatment plan, or being admitted to a hospital ward.

“These communities have higher rates of presentation to emergency departments than other Australians and improving their care will reduce hospital waiting times for everyone,” Associate Professor Clay-Williams said.

Blacktown Hospital emergency department

The research will be conducted in Westmead, Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), and successful improvements rolled out to other hospitals to improve acute care and experience for vulnerable people who visit emergency departments across NSW.

WSLHD chief executive Mr Graeme Loy said he was looking forward to working with Macquarie University on this important project.

With a rapidly expanding population and an increasing demand for emergency care, I believe western Sydney will be an excellent and strategically important location for this research with Macquarie University that will help improve care for our vulnerable community members.

Graeme Loy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples visit an emergency department 2.5 times more than other Australians and their rate of metal health presentations is more than four times higher. People with a disability visit emergency departments twice as often as people without disability. People over the age of 85 years have the highest rate of presentation to emergency departments.

“We will be working directly with people who often have multiple serious health conditions and can face communication and cultural challenges in making their needs understood, as well as with the clinicians who care for them in hospital emergency departments. They will be involved in co-designing improvements that will be introduced into emergency departments, making a real difference to people’s health and their experience in hospital,” Associate Professor Clay-Williams said.

The project team includes researchers from Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales, along with clinicians from Westmead, Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals’ emergency departments. Partnering with the research team will be the Western Sydney Local Health District, the NSW Emergency Care Institute (NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation), the Department of Social Services, Health Consumers NSW, and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Chief investigators on the project ‘Models of Care to Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Acute Care’ are some of Australia’s leading experts on improving the safety and quality of care for vulnerable patients, including Dr Matthew Vukasovic from Westmead Hospital and Dr Reza Ali from Blacktown Hospital.