Gains in discharge rates and ontime treatment

EMERGENCY department waiting times remained largely stable at Orange Health Service last quarter, compared to the same time last year, but departments are making small savings. 

The Bureau of Health Information released its quarterly statistics on Wednesday, which revealed while emergency department (ED) arrivals by ambulance rose 6 per cent to 1640, the total number of people attending the ED fell slightly to 7295, down 0.02 per cent. 

The fall was accounted for with a 14.2 per cent drop in semi-urgent and non-urgent cases, which a Western NSW Local Health District spokesman said reflected changing behaviour. 

“However, while less urgent presentations to our emergency departments have declined compared to last year, there are still patients coming to hospital emergency departments for non-emergency reasons who could receive treatment more appropriately by accessing services such as their general practitioner or local pharmacy,” he said. 

Waiting times prior to treatment either remained stable or fell, with emergency transfers remaining at five minutes on average and other categories dropping between two and four minutes to 15-minute waits for urgent cases and 16 minutes for non-urgent cases. 

“Orange made significant improvements in the time it took for patients to leave the ED, the percentage of patients leaving the ED within four hours, and the percentage of patients who started their ED treatment on time,” the spokesman said. 

Almost 77 per cent of patients were released within the four-hour timeframe, with 90 per cent of patients able to leaves after eight hours and 56 minutes, 24 minutes faster than 2017. 

The biggest rise for ontime treatment was in the emergency category, rising 3.6 per cent to 95.1 per cent. 

Resuscitations grew 40 per cent to 94 and emergency cases 3.8 per cent to 1013.

“Increases in both of these categories suggest the continued improvement of local hospitals to handle complex emergency cases, rather than being transferred to metropolitan facilities,” the spokesman said. 

The hospital performed 804 elective surgeries, up 7.7% from the same period in 2017, with 99.4 per cent performed on time.

The district received $976,000 to fund extra elective surgery, ensuring more cataract removals, hip replacements and knee replacements will be performed this financial year.