NSW Labor has warned the public health system in the Hunter and New England is already at breaking point and desperately needs a massive injection of resources to cope with both the outbreak of COVID-19 and a particularly bad flu season.
Data released today by the Bureau of Health Information has uncovered longer waiting times at emergency departments at all three major hospitals. The quarterly report also revealed worsening performances across almost every metric from ambulance response times to various elective surgery procedures.
Patients are now waiting longer than ever before for elective surgery, with waiting lists across the Hunter and New England tipping 11, 428 people. This is a jump of 728 or 6.8% since last year. Around 10% of patients waited for than a year for ‘non urgent procedures.’
The worst waiting times for procedures have been:
- Knee replacements – the average waiting time is 298 days (+42 from last year);
- And cataract removal – the average waiting time is 290 days (+29 from last year).
EMERGENCY DATA BY HOSPITAL
- 37.2% patients waited longer than 4 hours
- 10% patients waited almost 8 hours or longer for emergency care.
- 35.6% patients waited longer than 4 hours – 3.9% higher than same quarter last year
- 10% patients waited 8h 23m or longer for emergency care – up from 7 hours on the same quarter last year
- 37.8% patients waited longer than 4 hours – 9.3% higher than same quarter last year
- 10% patients waited 8h 31m or longer for emergency care – up from 8 hours on the same quarter last year
NSW Labor Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said: “It is not good enough to have waiting times blow out at all three major hospitals in a major regional centre like the Hunter and New England.
“What’s alarming is this data ends in December, before COVID-19 spread to NSW.
“We’re alarmed that if our hospital system was already under such strain then how well are we placed to respond to this pandemic?”
“Health funding announced by the Premier is welcome but it’s too little too late given the Government cut $252 million cut from the public health system and from public hospitals this year.”
Shadow Minister for the Hunter Clayton Barr said: “the state of the public health system in the Hunter and New England area is a disgrace. Patients are being forced to wait far too long for emergency care or even basic procedures. I’m really concerned we are not properly equipped to cope with the spread of covid-19.”