11 September 2019
As expected, the longest flu season in NSW since the 2009 pandemic has influenced the amount of patient presentations to emergency departments, reflected in the latest Bureau of Health Information report.

NSW Health Acting Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Wood said for the second successive report the patient numbers were the highest of any other previous quarter on record.

Public hospitals across NSW saw almost 755,000 patients attend emergency departments in April, May, and June, an increase of 8.2 per cent, or around 57,000 more than the same quarter of last year.

NSW Ambulance experienced a very busy quarter, with close to 310,000 ambulance responses, up by 9.7 per cent or an additional 27,523 responses on 2018’s quarter.

“We have seen a staggering number of hospital presentations this quarter, which is not even peak winter, influenced by the longest flu season in a decade,” Ms Wood said.

“In the face of these unprecedented arrivals, almost 72 per cent of ED patients had their treatment start on time, thanks to the outstanding efforts of our frontline staff.”

“In addition, NSW elective surgery again outshines all other States with 96.4 per cent of all elective surgeries performed within the recommended time frames,” she said.

For the first time, the Bureau of Health Information reported on the rates of seclusion and restraint of patients in specialised acute mental health inpatient units.

“Since 2010-11, the rate of seclusion in NSW public hospitals has almost halved, a change to our culture we should be proud of,” Ms Wood said.

Across NSW in the April to June 2019 quarter, seclusion events remained steady while the rate of physical restraint in the quarter increased 102 events to 920.

NSW is committed to reducing the use of physical restraint through the Mental Health Safety and Quality in NSW: A plan to implement recommendations of the Review of seclusion, restraint and observation of consumers with a mental illness in NSW Health facilities.

In 2019-20, the NSW Government is investing a record $26.7 billion in health. This year, $20.1 billion will go towards improving service in hospitals in NSW and $19.7 million in the first stage of a three-year, record $90 million commitment will contribute to improving mental health services.

More than $1 billion is to be invested in NSW Ambulance services in 2019-20, including

$27.1 million to employ an additional 221 paramedics and call centre staff. The workforce boost is the second tranche of the Government’s commitment to employ an additional 750 paramedics and call centre staff over four years

Furthermore $2.8 billion is being invested in NSW to recruit a total of 8,300 health frontline staff over four years, with 45 per cent located in regional NSW. This includes an additional 5,000 nurses and midwives, including mental health and palliative care nurses, and also 1,060 medical staff including psychiatrists and 880 allied health staff.