Minor ills not worth the wait: sick heading to GPs rather than emergency

SINKING IN: Less people are presenting in the emergency department at Orange hospital with non-urgent problems, according to figures just released by the National Health Performance Authority.

SINKING IN: Less people are presenting in the emergency department at Orange hospital with non-urgent problems, according to figures just released by the National Health Performance Authority.

PEOPLE in Orange and district are starting to get the message to go to their general practitioner for minor ailments, rather than face long waiting times at Orange hospital.

According to statistics just released by the National Health Performance Authority, 1000 fewer people turned up for treatment for non-urgent health problems at Orange hospital from July 2013 to April this year, compared with the same period in 2012/2013.

Orange Health Service general manager Catherine Nowlan said the figures on triage five, or non-urgent, cases were encouraging.

“We are pleased to see the numbers of people presenting to the ED [emergency department] in triage five is decreasing significantly,” she said.

However, with Orange’s growing profile as a major trauma hospital with increasing specialist services, the number of category one and category two triage patients coming to the hospital has significantly increased.

The introduction of a 24-hour on-call medical helicopter service based out of Orange and the provision of 24-hour, seven-day-a-week services in the cardiac unit for catheter procedures has increased the number of patients coming to Orange for treatment for heart conditions rather than be flown to Sydney.

The increasing workload at Orange hospital in the triage one category, where patients are in imminent danger of death, is reflected in figures showing between July 2013 and April this year the number of patients treated at Orange has doubled compared with two years ago.

The patients in this triage category have to be treated within two minutes of coming into the emergency department and usually arrive via ambulance or helicopter.

In the triage two category for the last reporting period 2591 patients were treated in the Orange emergency department for imminently life threatening conditions such as chest pain or breathing difficulties. 

Again, this figure was almost double the numbers for the first year the hospital was at the new site, and represented an increase of 331 patients on the previous reporting period.

In Monday’s Central Western Daily Western NSW Local Health District chief executive officer Scott McLachlan and Dr Nathan Zhou, of the Orange Family Medical Centre, appealed to the Orange community not to crowd the emergency department at Orange hospital with non-urgent cases and instead seek medical attention from a general practitioner.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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