Emergency departments across Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) have performed extraordinary well during the January – March 2020 BHI reporting period, as the region faced unprecedented challenges from bushfires, drought, an upswing in influenza-like illness cases and the health fallout from a global pandemic.
Chief Executive of SNSWLHD, Margaret Bennett, said despite the busy period, nearly 80 per cent (79.5 per cent) of patients started their treatment on time, compared with a NSW state result of 74.1 per cent. “We are incredibly proud of our workforce and I know the whole community is too because their performance under extraordinary circumstances has been tremendous,” Ms Bennett said. “This report covers a time when large parts of our District were ravaged by bushfires and blanketed in smoke, which affected the homes and communities of many of our doctors and nurses, as well as patients presenting to our hospitals. “Straight after the bushfires, we experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and despite all this, the most urgent patients in our EDs were treated quicker than the state average and people had their non-urgent elective surgery faster than state results. Figures show in all elective surgery procedures (urgent, semi-urgent and non-urgent) the District performed ahead of the state average. The NSW Government has announced up to an extra $388 million will be invested to fast-track elective surgeries delayed as a result of the National Cabinet decision, ensuring patients will be booked in to public or private hospitals as soon as possible. Surgery lists are being closely monitored, and any patient whose condition changes or deteriorates should speak to their treating clinician. Clinicians determine the surgical priority of their patients. The NSW Government has committed $800 million extra funding over two years on top of the 2019-20 Health Budget of $26.7 billion to help boost ICU capacity and purchase additional services and medical equipment, to help respond to COVID-19. Locally, Ms Bennett said there continues to be substantial investment in health facilities across the District, including the $120 million Goulburn Hospital and Health Service redevelopment, and a further $30 million announced for new cancer and renal service facilities. Furthermore, $18.6 million is being spent redeveloping Cooma Hospital, and $150 million has been committed to building a new health facility in Eurobodalla. A total of $8 million has been set aside for the Yass Hospital redevelopment, with funding for the Braidwood Multipurpose Service (MPS) redevelopment coming from the $304 million State-wide program of works to upgrade MPS facilities in a number of rural and remote communities across NSW. At Crookwell District Hospital, $2.5 million has been committed for refurbishment works. The report offers Individual Hospital Results: Batemans Bay District Hospital saw 3652 emergency department (ED) presentations, down 22.9 per cent, or 1,115 fewer people compared with the same period last year. Emergency patients leaving the ED within four hours was at 86.7 per cent, well ahead of the state target, while on time treatment for emergency presentations was ahead of the NSW median. Batemans Bay District Hospital has continued to do well in elective surgery performance, with 100 per cent of all elective surgery patients having their surgery on time. At Moruya District Hospital, 100 per cent of urgent, semi-urgent and non-urgent elective surgery was performed on time in this quarter. The hospital also recorded healthy emergency department performance, seeing 2,668 patients from January to March 2020. 76.9 per cent of patients started their treatment on time in the ED, an improvement of 5.7 percentage points on the same quarter in 2019. South East Regional Hospital (SERH) continued to increase its emergency department performance with emergency department presentations with 4,483 presentations for the quarter. The ED recorded an improvement of 9.8 percentage points, up to 81.8 per cent to be ahead of the peer group and NSW average, of patients starting treatment on time in the ED. Elective surgery performance improved, with 97.4 per cent of patients having their elective surgery performed on time, an improvement of 12.1 percentage points on the same quarter in 2019, to be above the peer group and NSW average. The 2019-20 budget for Southern New South Wales Local Health District (SNSWLHD) is almost $434 million. This is an increase of nearly $13 million on the previous financial year’s budget. Between mid-2012 and mid-2019, the Southern New South Wales Local Health District increased its workforce by an additional 467 full time equivalent staff - an increase of 26.4 per cent including 49 more doctors, 158 more nurses and midwives, and 68 more allied health staff. The NSW Government is also investing $2.8 billion to recruit 8,300 extra frontline staff over the next four years, including an additional 5,000 nurses and midwives. Seclusion & Restraint SNSWLHD is committed to reducing and where possible, eliminating seclusion and restraint, and providing the best possible mental health care and treatment in the least restrictive environment. Seclusion and restraint are used to maintain safety for a patient, staff or others, after less restrictive alternatives have been considered. At Goulburn, there were 257 acute mental health episodes in the January to March 2020 quarter, with 3.5 per cent of episodes including one or more events of seclusion. This is 2.6 per cent more than the previous year, just below the NSW average of 3.8 per cent. There were 25 seclusion events, or 11.3 per 1,000 bed days –23 more compared to the same period in 2019. 32 physical restraints occurred, or 14.5 per 1,000 bed days –5 more than in the same period in 2019. Meanwhile SERH mental health unit recorded 89 acute mental health episodes with less than 5 seclusion events and fewer than 8 physical restraint events compared to the same time period year.