- On June 12, 2019
In less than 10 years, there has been more than a 40 per cent increase in the number of patients presenting at NSW emergency departments, according to BHI figures.
“We’ve just seen another all-time record for ED presentations set, and this time it peaked above 750,000 patients for the first time.
“It’s also the second all-time record to be set in as many quarters,” AMA (NSW) President, Dr Kean-Seng Lim, said.
“This is not a sustainable rate of growth in patient numbers – we have effectively seen one-tenth of the population of NSW go through our emergency departments over the first three months of this year.
“Our hospitals were not built to cope with this extraordinary level of demand and that is showing in the increased time to treatment and patient waiting times.
“The state’s doctors, nurses, and other health staff have been making a valiant effort to hold onto the improvements in on-time treatment they had made over the course of the last few years.
“But we seem to have reached the end of that plateau and this continually building pressure is taking its toll on patient experience and on the staff who have to face this day in and day out,” Dr Lim said.
“This report should not be used as an excuse to shame particular hospitals.
“Each hospital serves a very different community and the fact is, some of them have many more very sick people in their area to begin with.
“And, similarly, we should not be shaming people who are sicker for being sick.
“This is an issue that is divided by geography – this tells me that the problems we are facing include differences in equity of access to healthcare experienced by someone in Westmead vs someone who lives closer to Royal North Shore, for example.
“We need to be looking at better ways to help people with chronic illnesses keep their conditions in check, so they don’t wind up needing emergency treatment.
“We need to help people find better ways to prevent development of diseases like type two diabetes.
“And we need to help health services in the community, like general practices, better take on the changing needs of the people they serve.
“This last point is something successive Federal Governments have been ignoring or making worse for several years now, through measures like the Medicare rebate freeze, and raising the spectre of co-payments,” Dr Lim said.
Media contact: Lachlan Jones 0419 402 955