Emergency wait times at Armidale Hospital spike after busy quarter

Emergency wait times at Armidale Hospital have jumped almost eight per cent since last year, a Bureau of Health Information report revealed on Wednesday.

But Hunter New England Health Executive Director of Rural and Regional Health, Susan Heyman, said the data, measuring wait times from July to September this year, was due to a spike in the number of patients presenting.

“We had many more people come through the emergency department and also of higher acuity,” she told Fairfax Media yesterday.

“The majority of people went through in under four hours, so staff and the doctors performed incredibly well.”

Across the state, more than 720,000 patients presented to a NSW public hospital emergency department (ED) between July and September – the highest number ever recorded for a quarter.

Around 75 per cent of patients were still leaving the Armidale ED within four hours while arrivals were up by three per cent, with more than 4,000 people presenting in the three-month timeframe.

Emergency treat times for acute patients increased by two minutes from the same quarter last year but resuscitation cases almost doubled while non-acute presentations were nearly triple.

Semi-urgent elective surgery was also up by more than 100 per cent from 82 cases to 165.

Wait times for elective surgery have also increased across the board, urgent procedures up from 15 to 20 days and non-urgent taking up to 275 days.

Ms Heyman said another reason for the figures was due to staff battling a particularly bad flu season this past winter.

“This winter was a particularly difficult winter across the state,” she said.

Ms Heyman said staff were looking forward to the new Armidale Hospital redevelopment opening in the New Year. She said it should improve performance figures in the years to come.

“(We’ll have) the physical space that is more advanced to increase efficiency (and we’ll) also have the opportunity to look at models of care and how you can do things better,” she said.