More than ever visit hospital
MORE patients were seen at the Ipswich Hospital emergency department in the past quarter than ever before, new statistics show.
In a reflection of the city’s booming population, the Queensland Health December quarterly report also revealed an increase in the number of elective surgery admissions.
The December 2010 quarter reported 12,338 emergency department admissions, a 4.1% increase on the previous year’s number of 11,854 admissions.
And while the number of people waiting for elective surgery increased by about 100 from October 1 last year until January 1 2011, the number of “long wait” patients dropped from 510 to 270.
The term “long wait” is given to a waiting time that exceeds the recommendation for that category.
Numbers were generally steady in other reporting categories.
The Health Service District chief executive Pam Lane said the figures show the average wait for a Category One (most urgent) emergency patient at Ipswich Hospital was less than a minute.
“This positive result was achieved despite the growth in presentations to the emergency department,” Ms Lane said.
The median waiting time between arriving at the emergency department and being admitted was above the Federal Government’s target time of four hours, sitting about five and a half hours.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Gino Pecoraro said new Health Minister Geoff Wilson needed to invest heavily in hospitals to meet the four-hour target.
“If staffing and bed shortages remain unaddressed, it is hard to see how hospitals will be able to meet these targets,” Dr Pecoraro said.
Ms Lane said there were factors that had to be taken into account when assessing emergency department wait times.
“It should also be remembered that patients need to be in the ED for a range of reasons, including because they are often under observation, or awaiting test or X-ray results before doctors can make a clinical decision about whether the patient needs to be admitted,” Ms Lane said.
For elective surgery lists, there were no category one patients waiting longer than 30 days for surgery.