Ambulance response times, emergency room wait times and waiting times for elective surgery remain high in Dubbo as health services continue to contend with high caseloads, according to the latest health performance data released today.
The Bureau of Health Information (BHI)'s latest Healthcare Quarterly report tracked activity and performance for public health services across NSW between April and June of this year.
BHI Acting Chief Executive Hilary Rowell said, across the state, patients typically waited longer for hospital and ambulance services over the quarter, as activity remained at "historically high" levels.
"NSW healthcare services continued to experience pressures in April to June, with sustained COVID-19 case numbers and the arrival of the winter flu season," she said.
Throughout the quarter, Dubbo Base Hospital's emergency room saw 10,306 attendances - a 24.3 percent drop compared to the 13,622 emergency room attendances in the same quarter last year.
With fewer people seeking treatment, unsurprisingly, there has been a growth in the percentage of patients receiving care on time - with 81.6 percent starting treatment on time this quarter compared to the same quarter last year when only 70.2 percent of patients presenting to emergency received on-time care.
However, there was a slight drop in the percentage of patients receiving treatment on time compared to the January to March quarter when 84.8 percent of the 9,491 patients visiting emergency received on-time care.
Dubbo Hospital's emergency department performed slightly better than the Western NSW Health District as a whole, where only 80.3 percent of patients started treatment on time.
In Orange only 69.9 percent of the 8,381 people who attended the emergency room were seen on time (down 6.8 percent from last year). Bathurst performed slightly better with 74.8 percent of the 6,864 presentations being treated on time (down 6.5 percent from last year).
Across NSW, only six in 10 patients (62.8 percent) were seen on time, the lowest of any quarter since BHI began reporting in 2010.
"Our additional analysis shows that one in five patients who leave without, or before completing treatment, tend to re-present to an ED within three days," said Ms Rowell.
Ambulance services in Dubbo responded to 4,847 calls for help in this quarter - up 8.7 percent compared to the same time last year. This is the second highest number of responses in any quarter since 2010. The median time for an ambulance to respond to an emergency in Dubbo was 12 minutes and for urgent calls, 16 minutes
Although urgent response times for ambulances have only climbed by one minute since last quarter, they are double what they were in 2010 and three minutes slower than this quarter last year. Higher priority emergency responses did not fare much better, remaining steady at 12 minutes - compared to 10 minutes in the same quarter last year.
Emergency ambulance response times in Bathurst were quickest in the state - with a median response time of 11 minutes, and Orange's ambulance response time median was in line with Dubbo's at 12 minutes.
Slower ambulance response times was a trend across the state with half of the 175,892 ambulance responses to emergency patients taking more than 16.3 minutes - the longest since 2010.
"Demand for ambulance responses remained high, particularly for patients requiring an emergency (P1) response, and patients waited longer for an ambulance than in any quarter since BHI began reporting in 2010," said Ms Rowell.
Wait times also remain high for elective surgeries with 1,868 read-for-surgery patients on the waiting list at Dubbo Base Hospital in June, including 36 waiting for urgent surgery. In March there were 1,764 on the waitlist.
The median wait time for urgent surgery is 14 days, 69 days for semi-urgent surgery and 369 days for non-urgent surgery. The wait time for urgent and semi-urgent elective surgery has dropped compared to the same quarter last year, however, the wait time for non-urgent surgeries has climbed by 26 days.
In Bathurst there are 750 patients on the waitlist for elective surgery and the waitlist is 1,467 patients long in Orange. Wait times are slightly lower in Bathurst and Orange than in Dubbo at 359 days and 337 days respectively for non-urgent surgery.
This trend is consistent across NSW, with half of all patients across the state waiting 339 days for non-urgent surgery.
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