Numbers are up at emergency departments in the region and the spike includes an increase in numbers arriving by ambulance.
Numbers are up at emergency departments in the region and the spike includes an increase in numbers arriving by ambulance.

Too many emergency visits unwarranted

NUMBERS are up at emergency departments on the Mid North Coast.

The spike includes an increase in patients arriving by ambulance.

The increase in presentations were recorded for the July to September quarter, with the latest Bureau of Health Information report documenting 34,628 presentations at emergency departments across the Mid North Coast.

This is an increase of 12.4 per cent, or 3,827 patients, compared to the same period last year.

This included 779 more patients arriving by ambulance - an increase of 12 per cent.


Port Macquarie - The Port Macquarie Base Hospital recorded the highest increase in ED presentations up 1,962 presentations, or 22 per cent, to 10,884 presentations.

Coffs Harbour - The emergency department at Coffs Harbour Health Campus experienced a 10.2 per cent rise to 10,956 presentations.


Coffs Harbour Hospital.
Coffs Harbour Hospital.

Despite hospitals on the Mid North Coast being busier, the proportion of patients leaving the ED within the recommended four hours remained steady at 76.9 per cent.

Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick said the region's public hospitals have faced unprecedented demand in recent months.

"Although we have experienced increased pressure on our services, particularly our EDs, our staff have worked exceptionally hard to ensure we continue to provide high-quality, timely care to our community," Mr Dowrick said.

"However, we are still seeing a high number of people coming into our emergency departments who could receive treatment in alternative settings such as a GP clinic, community pharmacy or by calling the HealthDirect line on 1800 022 222."

Mr Dowrick said the BHI report showed the District has performed well with elective surgery, a reflection of MNCLHD's effective use of collaboration between its larger base hospitals and smaller district facilities.

"Our public hospitals performed 2,959 procedures this quarter, and 99.5 per cent of urgent procedures were performed on time, on par with the same period last year. Our smaller hospitals have continued to support our clinical networks."

Kempsey performed 99.7 per cent of all elective surgery procedures on time, and Macksville 99.3 per cent.

The 2019-20 budget for the Mid North Coast Local Health District is $673 million - an increase of more than $31 million on the 2018-19 budget. 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.

Between mid-2012 and mid-2019, the MNCLHD increased its workforce by an additional 844 full time equivalent staff - an increase of 30.9 per cent including 32 more doctors, 383 more nurses and midwives, and 64 more allied health staff.