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NSW Emergency Departments Deluged with More Patients Than Ever

Record numbers of patients are flooding NSW emergency departments, as hospitals and ambulance services struggle to treat the rising tide of sicker, more complex patients on time.

Westmead Hospital’s emergency department reported the worst treatment times for the second quarter in a row, as staff dealt with an influx of critically ill patients, the latest NSW hospital data shows.

The EDs are busier than ever, with almost three quarters of a million (749,504) attendances between October and December 2018, almost 25,000 more patients compared to the same period in 2017, and almost a quarter of a million more than 2010, the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) Quarterly report shows.

It’s a trend that is likely to continue with the swelling ageing population, particularly in Sydney’s west.

More than one in four ED patients were not treated within the clinically recommended timeframes (26.1 per cent up 2.5 percentage points on the 2017 quarter), according to the final BHI quarterly report released before the state election.

There was a staggering 10.1 per cent jump in ‘triage 1’ patients – the most critically ill or injured cases requiring immediate resuscitation.

The number of triage 2 ‘emergency’ patients rose 9.6 per cent to 95,202 patients. Almost one in three T2 patients (33,000 people) were not treated within the clinically recommended 10-minute window, 3.4 percentage points higher than the 2017 quarter.

At Westmead Hospital, one in 10 triage 2 patients with potentially life-threatening conditions (631 people) waited over an hour or longer for their treatment to start.

Almost half of all Westmead ED patients (9801 people) waited too long for treatment, a 12 percentage point rise on the same quarter in 2017.

The western Sydney ED recorded 20,318 presentations over the quarter; 1022 more patients than the 2017 quarter.

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Source: The Sydney Morning Herald