Nepean Hospital emergency wait times the worst

UPDATE: Nepean Hospital is at “breaking point” topping the list for the longest wait times in their emergency department.

Opposition Health Minister Walt Secord said the upgrade of Nepean Hospital was “desperately needed”.

“Nepean Hospital has secured the unfortunate distinction of being the most under pressure hospital in the state,” Mr Secord said.

“The upgrade of Nepean Hospital is desperately needed.”

The results were revealed in the latest independent data from the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) which monitors NSW public healthcare. It showed 44.8 per cent of patients at Nepean waited longer than four hours in the emergency department.

Nepean Hospital saw a 6.6 per cent increase in patients waiting longer than four hours over the same quarter a year ago, he said.

But a Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District spokesman said the results needed to take into account a 36 per cent increase in life threatening conditions, as well as a five per cent increase in emergency department patients presenting compared to the same period in 2016. [See full statement below].

Blue Mountains Labor MP Trish Doyle also weighed into the issue, concerned that stadium rebuilds were being put ahead of patients. She raised the matter in Parliament on Wednesday [March 14].

“The Berejiklian government has the wrong priorities. We have the Sports Minister and Minister for Western Sydney [Stuart Ayres] pushing to spend billions on stadiums but leaving his own local hospital and patients to suffer.

“Ten per cent of patients waited almost 11 hours in the emergency department ...that is 1,760 patients,” Ms Doyle said.

“Make no mistake, Nepean Hospital is at breaking point and patients are suffering.

“Sadly, patients wait at every stage in NSW; they wait for an ambulance; they wait in an emergency department; they wait for a hospital bed; and when they finally get a bed, they are rushed out of the hospital, risking re-admission due to infection,” Ms Doyle added.

In a three month period, 17,650 patients presented to the Nepean emergency department and 914 babies were born.

The median wait at Nepean Hospital for elective surgery was 315 days with 378 days for septoplasty [corrective surgical procedure done to straighten the nasal septum]; 356 days for tonsillectomies; 285 days for total knee replacement; 274 days for a total hip replacement; 340 days for ear, nose and throat surgery; 248 days for a hernia; and 224 days for orthopaedic surgery at Nepean.

Mr Secord said patients waiting for elective surgery in NSW had reached an all-time high – with 76,227 patients – compared to 75,815 patients in the previous quarter.

State-wide, more than a quarter (26.4 per cent) of patients waited longer than four hours – the national benchmark – in emergency departments.  In total, 478,234 patients were admitted to hospital during this quarter.

 “The NSW health and hospital system continues to be under growing pressure with long waits in emergency departments and long waits for elective surgery,” Mr Secord said.

“Elective surgery lists are the longest ever, with more than 76,000 patients waiting for elective surgery.

“Unfortunately, every figure is an individual’s different tale of pain and suffering: Patients unable to drive because they cannot get a cataract operation or an elderly person unable to walk with their grandchildren in a park because they cannot get a hip or knee replacement,” Mr Secord said.

Nepean Hospital is set for an upgrade by 2023. This was announced by the then Premier Mike Baird in 2016.

At the time of the announcement the Chair of the hospital Medical Staff Council, Dr Nhi Nguyen, said one of the biggest concerns were the projections in regards to the growing population. 

“At the moment the projections don’t include the increase in housing that will occur as a result of Badgerys Creek [airport], Dr Nhi Nguyen said. 

“We already are worried that it’s not going to be enough.”

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District issued the following response today [Thursday March 15].

Here is the full statement:

“The NSW Health expenses budget for 2017-18 is $21.6 billion representing an almost $1 billion increase over the 2016-17 budget.

“One hundred per cent of all patients at the Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital received their elective surgery within the clinically recommended timeframe, despite a 4 per cent increase in patients needing surgery.

“Emergency departments across Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District continued to experience high demand at the tail-end of a significant and protracted flu season in 2017.

“The latest BHI report shows despite a 2 percent increase in presentations to Blue Mountains Hospital ED, almost 83 percent of patients presenting to the Blue Mountains Hospital emergency department are seen by clinicians, treated and admitted or discharged in less than four hours.

“Refurbishments at the Blue Mountains Hospital ED, including new treatment bays and an enhanced waiting area, will also help nurses to more quickly assess and triage patients.

“Nepean Hospital experienced a nearly 5 per cent increase in ED presentations during October to December 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

“Nepean Hospital saw a 36 per cent and 23 per cent increase in patients presenting with serious life-threatening conditions in triage category 1 (resuscitation) and 2 (emergency) during October to December 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. These patients require the most staff time resulting in a deterioration in both the number of patients starting treatment on time and leaving the ED within 4 hours of presentation.

“Redevelopments underway at Nepean Hospital will help our staff to better meet current and future demand. The Stage 1 $576 million redevelopment of Nepean Hospital, already underway, includes a new, expanded, emergency department and at least 12 new operating theatres which will help our staff to better meet future demand.

“A refurbishment of Nepean Hospital’s emergency department is currently underway which will create extra clinical space and increase capacity.  A number of Nepean Hospital initiatives, such as the Paediatric Assessment Short Stay and Cardiology Day Only Unit, offer patients alternative pathways to allow patients to be fast tracked through emergency.

“To help meet the growing demand for elective surgery, we have expanded theatre capacity within facilities across the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and reconfigured facilities to increase day only bed capacity. An additional operating theatre opened at Nepean Hospital in 2017.”

Member for Penrith Stuart Ayres issued a statement on Monday about the hospital.

“Labor should be very careful about criticising this government in relation to Nepean Hospital given their appalling record,” Mr Ayres said.

“It is only this government that has committed to a $576 million upgrade to help serve our growing community and provide the world-class health care that it deserves.

“This stands in stark contrast to Labor who care so little about the people of Penrith that they haven’t even committed a cent.”

“Labor’s record in relation to Nepean Hospital is abysmal.

“In 2004 they opened an upgraded Emergency Department that they claimed would meet the needs a growing community by catering for 50,000 presentations per year.

“Last year the Emergency Department saw 71,000 people. This is just typical of Labor’s terrible track record when it comes to building infrastructure.

“We also know that as well as the infrastructure you need to invest in the doctors and nurses that make the hospital work, that’s why since 2012 we’ve added almost 800 additional full-time equivalent staff including 119 more doctors and nearly 300 more nurses.”

“The 2017/18 budget for NBMLHD is over $793 million, an increase of almost 60% since we came to government.”

“Despite a growing population, Nepean Hospital has seen improvement in performance when compared to the same quarter in 2010 under Labor, including nearly 15 per cent more patients through the Emergency Department within 4 hours and nearly 14 per cent more patients receiving their surgery on time.

“While Labor continue to try and divert people’s attention from their record, this government will continue to deliver its $576 million upgrade as well as unprecedented levels of funding for more nurses and doctors,” said Mr Ayres.