Healthcare Quarterly report shows how Hunter hospitals and ambulance services performed

Report card: John Hunter Hospital fared well against its peers in the latest Healthcare Quarterly report. Picture: Simone De Peak.
Report card: John Hunter Hospital fared well against its peers in the latest Healthcare Quarterly report. Picture: Simone De Peak.

MOST patients presenting to John Hunter Hospital’s emergency department will be seen within four hours, but one in 10 will wait longer than seven hours, new data shows.

The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has released its Healthcare Quarterly report, which shows how public hospitals and ambulance services in NSW performed in the April to June quarter of 2017.

At John Hunter, the data showed 63.4 per cent of patients left the emergency department (ED) within four hours of presentation, down from 68 per cent at the same time last year.

Presentations to the ED had increased by 5.4 per cent.

The average waiting time for emergency patients at the hospital was three hours and 24 minutes, while the state average was two hours and 45 minutes.

John Hunter Hospital performed well against its peer group, which includes other principal referral hospitals such as Royal North Shore, Westmead and Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney.

Ninety per cent of patients left John Hunter within seven hours and 19 minutes, against the eight hour and 31 minute average of its peers.

The data also showed John Hunter performed 99 per cent of its elective surgeries on time, up from 97.6 per cent the year prior.

The ambulance response times for “priority one” emergencies varied across the Hunter.

The response times within Hunter Zone 1, which includes the suburbs between Nelson Bay, Belmont and Boolaroo, was higher than the state average – with an ambulance arriving within 15 minutes for 65 per cent of priority one emergencies, and 96.4 per cent within 30 minutes.

But in Hunter Zone 2, which includes the areas within Scone, Gloucester and Singleton, 52.7 per cent of emergency incidents had an ambulance arrive within 15 minutes, and 92.1 per cent arrived within 30 minutes.

A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said the distance and travel times in rural and regional areas were a contributing factor in “response performance.”

Bureau of Health Information acting chief executive, Dr Kim Sutherland, said the call to ambulance arrival times in the highest priority categories were similar to the same quarter last year, despite an increase in ambulance activity.

“Call to ambulance arrival time is a valuable measure as it reflects patients’ experiences, spanning the time from when a Triple Zero call is first answered in the control centre, to the time the first paramedic arrives at the scene,” Dr Sutherland said.

In NSW, 63.7 per cent of priority one incidents had a call to ambulance arrival time within 15 minutes, and 95 per cent were within 30 minutes.

For “priority two” – urgent – incidents, 75.4 per cent had a call to ambulance arrival time within 30 minutes and 95.3 per cent were within 60 minutes.