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NSW hospitals recognised as Australia’s best in emergency performance

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Public hospitals in NSW have been recognised in AIHW’s report as Australia’s best performance in emergency departments.

NSW’s public hospitals have been recognised as the best in the country on performance in emergency departments (EDs) in 2021-22 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports released show NSW EDs performed better than any other state or territory in Australia during this very challenging time, with the most patients seen on time and the lowest wait times.

On the other hand, the NSW elective surgery performance was second best in the country when it came to treating patients within clinically recommended timeframes despite the significant impact of COVID-19, including temporary suspensions of non-urgent surgery.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said while the AIHW reports show the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the timeliness of care throughout the country, the NSW public health system continued to set the benchmark for performance.

“What is clear is that when a patient shows up at NSW public hospital, they are receiving the best and quickest care in the country,” Minister Hazzard said.

“When it came to elective surgery performed on time, NSW was only a narrow second to Queensland, which had its borders closed for much of the pandemic while NSW remained open to the world and was dealing with a fraction of the COVID cases we experienced in NSW.

“Despite the many serious challenges associated with COVID-19, the NSW health system continues to provide safe, high-quality care to its patients, which is a testament to the ability and commitment of its outstanding workforce.”

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Adjunct Professor Matthew Daly said, overall, the AIHW reports show that NSW public hospitals are in a good place to recover from the pandemic impacts.

“While we acknowledge there have been impacts on the timeliness of care in our EDs and to our ability to perform as many elective surgeries as we would have liked due to COVID-19, our public hospitals in NSW were remarkably resilient and – as these reports show – remained the best in the country on many important indicators.”

In 2021-22, there were 8,789,877 ED presentations nationally, including 3,012,992 in NSW – the highest number of ED attendances of all jurisdictions, accounting for over 34 per cent of the national total.

In NSW, 77 per cent of ED presentations were seen on time, the highest of all states and territories, and well above the national result, at 67 per cent.

NSW had a median ED waiting time of 14 minutes, the lowest of all states and territories, and well below the national result of 20 minutes.

COVID-19 restrictions affected the volume, type, and timing of elective surgery procedures across Australia. As restrictions varied across jurisdictions and differing time periods, their impact on elective surgery has not been consistent.

NSW had the second-highest proportion of elective surgeries completed within clinically recommended timeframes at 82.7 per cent in 2021-22.

For the proportion of patients admitted within clinically recommended timeframes by urgency category, NSW was also the second-best performing jurisdiction, at 99.2 per cent, for urgent procedures.

Prof Daly said it is important to note that all urgent elective surgery continued throughout the pandemic and NSW public hospitals also performed about 100,000 emergency surgeries during 2021-22. These critical and often very complex surgical procedures are not included in the AIHW report.

Prof Daly said the latest Bureau of Health Information Healthcare Quarterly report (July – September 2022), also released today, shows that recovery is underway, with improvements in key areas when it comes to timeliness of care.

“Our public hospitals had another busy and challenging quarter from July to September with COVID and other respiratory illnesses circulating in the community, as well as ongoing furloughing of staff,” Prof Daly said.

“However, these did ease toward the end of the quarter, and we are now seeing some encouraging improvements in performance, which we will be working hard to build on.”

The NSW Government is investing a record $33 billion in health as part of the 2022-23 NSW Budget, including almost $900 million for the ongoing COVID-19 response.

The NSW Government also announced the largest workforce boost in the nation’s history in the 2022-23 Budget with a $4.5 billion investment over four years for 10,148 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff to hospitals and health services across NSW.

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