Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, is calling for more staff at Gosford Hospital‘s Emergency Department, with the latest Bureau of Health Information quarterly report indicating a rise of 395.5 per cent in people leaving the ED without or before treatment.
“The number of people leaving ED before treatment between the period of April to June this year, in comparison to the same period last year, has risen from 345 to 1,706,” Tesch said.
Tesch said attendance at the ED had risen by 37.1 per cent, an increase of 10,928 since the same period last year.
“It is undeniably clear that our local Emergency Department is becoming busier, especially with the many new locals we are welcoming to the Coast,” she said.
“Staff at Gosford Hospital are already working ‘over and above’, regularly working overtime and double shifts, not taking holidays, and clearly need greater support.
“These results indicate that we need more staff pumped into our hospital to ensure that our locals are being given the attention they need.
“If this trend increases I have grave fears that this will deter thousands of Coasties from seeking medical assistance when they need it.
“While there was a drop in presentations to the Emergency Department in the same period last year, it is clear that from 2016 the presentations at the hospital have overall been on an incline,” Tesch said.
“There is no denying our population has increased and our local hospitals are struggling to keep up.
“The results are clear – we need more staff.”
A spokesperson for Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) said an increase in emergency department (ED) presentations had been anticipated as the system recovered from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and that staff levels in the region’s hospitals had increased by almost 30 per cent between mid-2012 and mid-2021.
“(Emergency Departments) at both Gosford and Wyong hospitals were significantly busier during the April to June quarter compared to the same quarter last year, with just the first week of the current outbreak recorded in this quarter,” the spokesperson said.
“Overall, Gosford and Wyong Hospitals received 40,364 emergency department attendances during the quarter, compared to 29,436 for the same quarter in 2020, an increase of 37.1per cent.
“While a proportion of this increase can be explained by a decrease in the number of people presenting to emergency departments during the height of the initial COVID outbreak in NSW, the number of attendances has also increased in comparison to the April to June 2019 quarter (36,902 people).
“The significant increase in the number of patients attending emergency departments compared to the same quarter last year has impacted on the length of time patients have waited to start treatment.
“The percentage of all patients starting treatment on time was 51.3 per cent, a 25.9 percentage point decline from 2020.
“Patients leaving the emergency department within four hours also declined, down to 50.5 per cent from 62.2 per cent.
“The District is always looking for ways to improve access to care and the experience of our patients.
“We have implemented a number of projects which aim to streamline processes to allow patients to commence treatment more quickly and increase the number of bed spaces available within the emergency departments.
“In the Gosford Hospital Emergency Department, we have doubled the capacity of the Emergency Department Short Stay Unit (EDSSU), increasing bed numbers from six to 12.
“The EDSSU provides care for patients who require short-term assessment, treatment and observation, freeing up emergency department beds for other patients.
“At Wyong Hospital, we have implemented a daily ‘huddle’ between ED staff and all departments.
“This whole-of-hospital approach ensures emergency department patients requiring hospital admission are transferred to an inpatient unit as soon as possible, allowing ED staff to focus on patients arriving.
“The team has also implemented a daily discharge multi-disciplinary team meeting to assist with discharge and free up inpatient beds earlier in the day.
“We have also placed Patient Experience Officers in the ED, to help patients navigate the emergency department.
“The 2020-21 budget for CCLHD was more than $919 million; this is an increase of more than $31.7 million on the 2019-20 budget.
“Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, CCLHD increased its workforce by an additional 1,265 full-time equivalent staff – an increase of 28.7 per cent including 239 more doctors, 519 more nurses and midwives and 131 more allied health staff.”