Hospital waiting times slashed as patient numbers rise

UPGRADE: Dubbo Hospital general manager Debbie Bickerton and politicians toured the new clinical services building in 2016. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
UPGRADE: Dubbo Hospital general manager Debbie Bickerton and politicians toured the new clinical services building in 2016. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Elective surgery waiting times have been reduced at Dubbo Hospital despite increased patient numbers, the latest Bureau of Health Information report has shown.

The Hospital Quarterly report for October to December 2016 has revealed the number of patients undergoing elective surgeries rose 29.2 per cent compared with the same period in 2015.

The number of patients undergoing semi-urgent surgery rose by almost half (47.1 per cent), non-urgent rose 44.5 per cent and staged rose by 26.9 per cent.

But 100 per cent (urgent), 98.2 per cent (semi-urgent) and 99.4 per cent (non-urgent) of patients still received surgery within the clinically recommended timeframe.

Patients waited 133 days less for ear, nose and throat surgery, while median waiting times were also slashed for ophthalmology (316 days compared to 352 in 2015) and orthapaedic surgery (278 days compared to 315).

Median waiting times increased for gynaecology (56 days compared to 41) and urology (44 days compared to 27).

Dubbo Hospital general manager Debbie Bickerton said the numbers were “impressive”.

She said the opening of a fifth operating theatre, within the new clinical services building, was largely responsible for the improvement.

She said hospital management had prioritised areas such as ear, nose and throat and ophthalmology in the new theatre because “those were the ones where there was a lot of pressure on the waiting list”.

The emergency department also saw an increase in presentations (11 per cent), with the number of patients leaving within four hours (73.1 per cent) remaining steady.

“We’ll have more beds through the redevelopment as well as a purpose-built emergency department which will assist us with the fast-tracking of the non-life threatening patients,” Ms Bickerton said.

“There’s been significant growth throughout the activity of the hospital, so I think maintaining this performance and the other side of this performance is the quality and safety indicators and all of those are improving.

“It’s all going in the right direction.”