Northern Beaches Hospital: Emergency department sees a surge in patient numbers

BUSY TIMES: There's been a spike in patients needing resuscitation in the hospital's emergency department. Picture: Supplied
BUSY TIMES: There's been a spike in patients needing resuscitation in the hospital's emergency department. Picture: Supplied

PATIENT numbers in the Northern Beaches Hospital's emergency department are soaring, with a spike in the most seriously sick people, new data shows.

During the first three months of this year presentations to the ED jumped by a third to 23,521 people, while the number of patients needing resuscitation jumped by 33 per cent during the same time period.

The biggest spike in patient numbers was for non-urgent cases, with 7765 people attending the ED during the January to March 2021 quarter. This was up 199.7 per cent on the 2591 during the same time period in 2020. A hospital spokeswoman said however that around 6400 people included in this category were there for a COVID-19 test.

Hospital chief executive officer Andrew Newton said Northern Beaches Hospital continued to provide efficient and timely care for patients despite the increase in demand.

"On average, we are now treating more than 200 people a day in our ED excluding COVID-19 presentations," he said.

On average, we are now treating more than 200 people a day in our ED.

Northern Beaches Hospital chief executive officer Andrew Newton

"We also had sicker patients attending our ED in the first quarter of 2021, with the number of resuscitation cases increasing by 33 per cent [29 more] to 117 attendances. The number of semi-urgent cases increased by 13 per cent [672 more cases] to 5581 compared with the same quarter last year.

"Despite the increase in pressure, a majority of patients [78.4 per cent] left the ED within four hours of arrival."

The Bureau of Health Information report also revealed the median wait time for emergency patients was six minutes, on par with the same quarter last year and better than the NSW target of 10 minutes.

Despite the huge increase in patient numbers in the ED during the quarter, 83.3 per cent of them still started treatment on time, up from 81.7 per cent in the same quarter in 2020. The report also shows that NBH treated more patients on time when compared to its peer group where the rate was just 71.6 per cent.

From January to March this year, staff performed 813 elective surgery procedures, which is 13.2 per cent (95 additional cases) more than the same period last year. Almost all, 99 per cent, of elective surgeries were completed on time.

Despite this increase, there were still 1088 people waiting for their day in the operating theatre, up 26.5 per cent on the 860 who were waiting at this time last year.

The hospital also saw a baby boom, with 503 bubs delivered in that quarter compared with 385 in the same period in 2020, an increase of 30.6 per cent.

BUSY TIMES: Thousands of extra people have been attending Northern Beaches Hospital's emergency department. Picture: Simon Bennett

BUSY TIMES: Thousands of extra people have been attending Northern Beaches Hospital's emergency department. Picture: Simon Bennett

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