Emergency department waiting times rising at Dubbo

A LARGER emergency department and better equipped staff will help reduce waiting and treatment times at Dubbo hospital, according to Dubbo Health Service acting general manager Graham Dyer.

The latest quarterly report from the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) revealed waiting times at Dubbo’s emergency department (ED) from July to September increased compared with the same time last year.

Waiting times remained level for emergency patients, with half of them seen within nine minutes, while half of urgent patients were waiting four minutes longer compared with 2014 figures.

Half of semi-urgent patients were seen within 38 minutes, up from 27 minutes, while half of non-urgent patients started treatment within 31 minutes of presenting at the ED.

Mr Dyer said staff at Dubbo’s ED are faced with some unique challenges due to the large catchment area and distance between facilities.

“At times delays in logistics, such as patient transfers and distances have led to a greater length of stay in ED, which in turn reduces the availability of ED beds and increases waiting times,” Mr Dyer said.

“Increases in activity and acuity, i.e., the number of and level of presentations to the ED, have caused a very slight increase in wait times, which have affected the urgent and semi-urgent waiting times.

“Overall the wait times in Dubbo are better than the state average, and we are very proud of this.”

Stages three and four of the hospital redevelopment will help improve treatment times, Mr Dyer said, and the hospital is “aiming for patients to be treated sooner through some other strategies”.

“We are currently recruiting a more regular medical workforce and steering away from locum or agency doctors, allowing for more consistency,” Mr Dyer said.

“Increased education and training of the triage nursing staff in Dubbo ED, allowing them to order x-rays and initiate medications, will also assist in the reduction of waiting times.”

Patients themselves are being asked to help out, by asking themselves “is my urgency an emergency?”

“Patients should in a first instance see their GP if it’s not an emergency, therefore allowing the ED to treat emergency cases in a timely fashion,” Mr Dyer said.

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