Funds help to ease emergency demand
The West Gippsland Healthcare Group has received $1.12 million as part of a $500 million state government plan to improve ambulance services and emergency departments.
The extra funding will open three new ward beds at the hospital, increasing the ability of medical staff to move patients requiring admission out of the emergency department and freeing up space for the patients arriving by ambulance.
WGH emergency department admissions have increased 13 per cent in the first seven months of this financial year.
While general demand and emergency department demand continue to increase annually, WGHG acting chief executive officer Justin Walsh said the 13 per cent increase was the most significant jump in recent years.
But, he said they also had received additional funding to help deal with the pressure.
Hospitals across the state have experienced unprecedented demand with a 24 per cent increase in emergency presentations in the past six years. More than a third of these patients have been admitted to hospital – the highest number ever – and was coupled with a significant surge in ambulance demand.
The state government’s $500 million plan to improve ambulance response times includes $50 million to go towards improving emergency departments so patients can be treated and admitted quicker, freeing up ambulances to get back on the road sooner.
Mr Walsh said WGHG had received $1.12 million additional activity funding that will allow them to free up beds in the medical ward.
He said WGHG was continuing its share agreement with Neerim District Soldiers Memorial Hospital who will take on elderly patients from Warragul.
“This will free up those beds to create more emergency access and more capacity to admit and improve response times,” he said.
Mr Walsh said having access to beds off site at Neerim South has been a successful arrangement in recent years.
He said only patients that could be treated or cared for within NDSMH’s capacity would be relocated.
Mr Walsh said demand in emergency admissions was continuing to increase and at busy times patients would go through ED and were then left waiting for their bed.
“Now that we have these three extra beds in the medical ward we can cater for them more timely,” he said.
Mr Walsh said emergency presentations reached a peak at 20,000 about two years ago, but had continued to rise.
“There has definitely been an increase in medical admissions but this year it has been higher than previous,” he said.
The latest performance figures for the three month period ending in December showed West Gippsland Hospital:
Admitted 3142 patients, up from 2840 admissions in the same period a year earlier;
Saw 5602 patients who presented to the emergency department, up from 5346 presentations in the same quarter in 2015;
Received 998 ambulance arrivals, up from 942 arrivals a year earlier;
Completed the transfer of 93.5 per cent of patients who arrived at the hospital in an ambulance in the December quarter within the target of 40 minutes, better than the statewide benchmark of 90 per cent;
Reduced the number of patients on the elective surgery waiting list by 445 – from 747 at the end of the December 2015 quarter to 302 at the end of this December.
The average time for an ambulance to reach the scene of a code one accident or emergency in the Baw Baw Shire has improved, to 17:22 minutes in the December quarter from 18:39 minutes a year earlier.
Over the same period, the proportion of ambulances which arrived within the benchmark 15 minutes for the most time-critical patients – including cardiac arrest, heart attack, major trauma and stroke patients – improved from 49.2 per cent to 55.8 per cent.
Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing said the state government’s record investment in health meant more patients in Warragul would get the care, treatment and surgery they needed sooner.”
“With more paramedics on the road, ambulances will be able to respond to life threatening emergencies in Baw Baw Shire even more quickly,” she said.