There was a significant drop in emergency department attendances at hospitals across the Hunter New England Local Health District during the April to June quarter - the first wave of the pandemic.
In the latest Healthcare Quarterly report out this week from the Bureau of Health Information (BHI), Taree's Manning Base Hospital recorded a decrease of 17.8 per cent, or 1456 less patients, attending the emergency department during this time.
Tamworth Hospital's emergency department attendances fell by 21.9 per cent, or 2340 less presentations, to 8364 for the quarter. The number of patients starting emergency care on time increased to 78.6 per cent, an increase of 9.5 percentage points.
Maitland Hospital saw a decrease of 20.3 per cent or 2631 less patients, Armidale Hospital a decrease of 22.3 per cent or 930 less patients, Inverell Hospital a decrease of 20.8 per cent or 488 less patients and Moree Hospital a decrease of 23.9 percent or 613 less patients.
There were 17,546 emergency department presentations at John Hunter Hospital during the April - June 2020 quarter, 3938 less presentations than in 2019. The number of patients starting treatment on time increased to 86.2 per cent from 71.5 per cent in 2019, or 2579 more patients.
Hunter New England Local Health District's (HNELHD) performance remained strong in the latest Healthcare Quarterly report out this week from the BHI, district chief executive Michael DiRienzo said.
The April to June quarter was at the height of COVID-19 restrictions affecting many parts of the State, including HNELHD.
"This quarter gives us a snapshot of how the virus impacted healthcare and how the community used our services in this time," Mr DiRienzo said.
"Overall, the results are as expected - a fall in emergency presentations and visits to our hospitals and a rise in people waiting for surgery as the Federal Government paused non-urgent surgery to respond to the pandemic.
"Our focus now is on rescheduling semi-urgent and non-urgent elective surgeries that had to be postponed and ensuring those with long term, chronic conditions are getting treatment."
The Federal Government decision to pause non-urgent surgeries has impacted the number of patients who were on the district's waiting list and ready for their elective surgery or procedure.
Hospitals across the district worked hard to ensure 100 per cent of all 1670 urgent elective surgeries were performed on time, Mr DiRienzo said.
"Our focus is now on ensuring patients who had their surgery postponed have their procedure rescheduled and performed as soon as possible.
"Patients waiting for elective surgery will retain their place on the hospital's waitlist."
Seclusion and restraint
District hospitals with acute mental health units also tracked well against performance indicators for mental health seclusion and restraint. Seclusion and restraint are only used as a last measure to maintain the safety of the patient, other patients, staff and visitors.
Armidale and Morisset hospitals implemented no periods of seclusion or restraint in the April to June 2020 quarter. Armidale also recorded no periods of physical restraint and Morisset recorded less than five.
Manning Base Hospital cared for 95 patients during this quarter and recorded less than five periods of seclusion and less than five events of physical restraint.
John Hunter Hospital cared for 84 patients and recorded less than five periods of seclusion and 68 periods of physical restraint.
Maitland Hospital cared for 198 patients and implemented 19 periods of seclusion. Tamworth Hospital cared for 227 patients during the quarter, and implemented 13 seclusions.
Both Maitland and Tamworth met the benchmark of seclusion not exceeding four hours. The two hospitals were among 16 across the State that recorded more than 5.1 events per 1000 bed days.
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