Maclean Hospital.
Maclean Hospital.

MIXED BAG: No easy answers in hospital admissions data

WHETHER or not you are a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type, the latest Maclean hospital admissions data has a story for you.

 

The latest Bureau of Health Information Quarterly Report was released on Wednesday and despite contending with bushfires and the beginning of a pandemic, Clarence hospitals held up fairly well.

However, wait times at Maclean District Hospital continue to increase on last year, this comes despite a decrease of 2.6 per cent in presentations, down 90 people to 3388.

Overall, the percentage of people starting treatment on time reduced from 77.8 per cent to 65.1 per cent with T2: Emergency category moving significantly, with a 21.9 per cent reduction to slip below 50 per cent.

This was 16.5 per cent lower than the peer group average.

In real terms it meant the median time to treatment increased by three minutes and one in 10 patients now wait 41 minutes for treatment instead of 27 at the same time last year. One in 10 patients left ED after five hours and 26 minutes, up from four hours 48 minutes.

Wayne Jones, chief executive of Northern NSW Local Health District said during the quarter, Maclean Hospital was impacted by some unplanned staff absences due to flooding and personnel changes.

He added the hospital met the Emergency Treatment Performance target for the January to March quarter, with 80.7 per cent of patients leaving the emergency department within four hours.

"Following the staff changes, the ED team has been reviewing patient flow processes to ensure the unit continues to focus on providing efficient and safe patient care for the community," he said.

"The Clarence Health Service Executive is reviewing the T2 and T3 results in the January to March quarter to identify strategies for improvements."

Mr Jones said additional nursing hours had been added.

"The additional 4.8 FTE of nursing hours per patient day allocated to Maclean District Hospital wards from the start of March is providing additional resourcing that will assist patient flow. Initial internal data from April and May is already showing an improvement in triage times.

There are some positive signs in the data, with the median wait times in the T3: Urgent and T4: Semi-urgent categories decreasing since the last quarter.

The hospital also became the subject controversy during the same period when NNSWLHD announced a ward restructure, before shelving those plans due to anintense community backlash.

Mr Jones said the ward restructure was not targeted at ED.

"The reconfiguration proposal for the wards in Maclean District Hospital was centred around identifying opportunities to increase the use of existing hospital resources in the inpatient setting, and was not specifically targeted at ED performance."



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