Local Health District hits back at declining service claims

Gosford Hospital’s emergency departmentGosford Hospital’s emergency department is experiencing extra pressure from non-urgent patients.

Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) has hit back at claims by Member for Wyong and shadow Health Minister, David Harris, that public health services on the Coast are in decline.

Harris said waiting times in emergency departments, along with waiting lists for elective surgery at Gosford and Wyong Hospitals, were “continuing to blow out” according to latest Bureau of Health information.

“These revelations follow a damning report from the NSW Auditor General which revealed that a majority of Local Health Districts across the state were failing to meet their targets when it came to important health indicators including sentinel events, emergency treatment and triage, elective surgery, and readmission rates for mental health patients, ” he said.

“Patients across the Central Coast are among those waiting the longest in emergency departments across NSW.

“The median waiting time in emergency for patients in the Central Coast Local Health District is now 3 hours and 34 minutes before being looked after, an increase of 14 minutes since 2018. “This is just unacceptable. “My community relies on the public health system and Gladys Berejiklian and Brad Hazzard are letting it fall into rack and ruin. ”

But a CCLHD spokesperson said the longest flu season in NSW since the 2009 pandemic had been a significant contributor to record numbers of emergency department presentations across the state.

“The record rise across the state was clear in the Central Coast Local Health District, where both Gosford and Wyong hospitals recorded massive increases in emergency department (ED) attendances in the July to September quarter, compared to the same period last year, ” the spokesperson said.

“In total, 37,103 ED patients were seen at Gosford and Wyong hospitals from July to September, up by nearly nine per cent, or more than 3,000 patients.

“The rise of seriously ill and injured patients presenting to EDs was especially apparent during this reporting period.

“At Gosford Hospital, there was an almost 20 per cent increase in the amount of people presenting in the most serious triage category, and 11 per cent in the second most serious, up by 40 patients to 241, and up by 265 patients to 2,665 respectively.

“Despite the significant increase in presentations, 60 per cent of patients at Gosford and Wyong emergency departments started receiving treatment on time during this period. ” The spokesman said CCLHD continued to develop long-term plans to address increasing attendance levels, including revising the current inpatient bed numbers, recruiting additional senior medical staff into the EDs, increasing the department’s short stay capacity, and developing additional aged care response services in the community.

“The CCLHD has developed a stronger partnership with Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network, looking at improvements in care provided to patients both in and outside of hospitals, and working with NSW Ambulance, local GPs, after hours medical practices and pharmacies, ” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said care and prevention initiatives to reduce the risk of hospitalisation included: a new mobile x-ray service; community clinics and support for events like NAIDOC Day; preventative health checks; more community nurse practitioners; and, tools to identify and assist people living with chronic conditions.

“The 2019-20 budget for CCLHD is more than $873M. “This is an increase of over $32M on the 2018-19 budget. “Between mid 2012 and mid 2019, CCLHD increased its workforce by an additional 1,044 full time equivalent staff, an increase of 24 per cent, including 199 more doctors and 453 more nurses. ”

Source: Media release, Dec 11 Shadow Health Minister, David Harris Media release, Dec 13 Central Coast Local Health District