Increased public hospital activity, capacity and performance on the Sunshine Coast have been highlighted by new waiting list performance data to be published by the Queensland Government on Monday.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service was catering for increasing growth and patient demand – with an extra 110 public beds in the brand-new Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital (SCUPH).
“Since March 2012, there has been a state-wide surge in Emergency Department performance, reflected on the Sunshine Coast, where the number of patients treated or discharged within four hours has increased from 68 per cent to 76 per cent,” Mr Springborg said.
“In the last 12 months, we have also seen a dramatic decline in numbers of Sunshine Coast patients waiting two years or more on the general care waiting list for public dentistry – from 4,085 to just 207.”
However, the Minister said the recent increase in access to public hospital beds had changed the base of demand for local surgery. Sunshine Coast residents were keen to access care locally. Several hundred were transferred back from Brisbane hospital waiting lists to the Sunshine Coast for treatment and already about 170 of these had received their elective surgery at SCUPH.
The net result of the surge in demand was a temporary increase in local numbers of long-wait patients and some diminution of performance in elective surgery. “I have been assured by the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Board that these consequences of increased access to new infrastructure will be temporary,” Mr Springborg said.
“More than 4000 public medical and surgical patients have been referred to new hospital since it opened its doors to public patients on 2 December, with more than 1,500 have patients already having surgery at the hospital.”
Mr Springborg said there were other unique factors affecting service on the Sunshine Coast, including a high number of emergency cases. “In fact, in the month just past, more than half of all surgery performed at Nambour General Hospital were emergency cases,” he said.
Mr Springborg said when compared to the four-hour National Emergency Access Target benchmark, Sunshine Coast EDs achieved results just under the state average of 77.6 per cent, despite 5,500 more patients presenting to emergency departments when compared to last year.
“Demand also increased in the outpatients department, with more than 8,900 new patient referrals received in March for specialist outpatient clinics,” he said. “This is a 46 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
Such an increase requires the health service to continually innovate and introduce new approaches to provide patient care.
“In the March quarter this year more than 29,000 outpatients were seen, compared to the same period the previous year with 25,839 outpatients seen – a 12 per cent increase.
Mr Springborg said the Health Service would continue to regularly review its processes to ensure resources were utilised efficiently and effectively.
Fast facts: Each day in the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service:
– 8 babies are born
– 317 people will present at our hospital and emergency departments
– $1,782 million is invested in delivering hospital and health services
– 382 drug prescriptions are filled
– 2,011 pathology tests are performed
– 660 outpatient occasions of service are delivered
– 220 people are admitted to hospital including 101 through Emergency Departments