Region's hospitals performing under state average

Hospitals in southern Sydney have fallen below the state standard in the latest Bureau of Health Information report.

The statistics, released this week, compared hospital performances in the October-December 2019 quarter.

All southern region hospitals - St George and Sutherland in the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and Campbelltown, Fairfield and Liverpool in the South Western Sydney Health District - recorded under the NSW average percentage of patients treated within the recommended clinical timeframe for emergencies.

People considered to be T2 emergency triage patients should be treated within 10 minutes, according official recommendations.

On average, 63 per cent of hospital patients statewide were treated within this recommended timeframe.

However, none of the five hospitals above met the state average.

Campbelltown Hospital was closest, with 61.1 per cent of T2 patients receiving treatment in the recommended timeframe. Liverpool was next best at 59.3 per cent, followed by Fairfield (54.6 per cent), St George (47.4 per cent) and Sutherland (35.1 per cent).

The results improved in the other triage levels, T3 (urgent, within 30 minutes), T4 (semi-urgent, within 60 minutes) and T5 (non-urgent, within 120 minutes).

For T3 cases, Campbelltown (72.5 per cent of patients) and Liverpool (73.3 per cent) hospitals recorded results above the state average of 67.6 per cent, while Fairfield (64.8 per cent) and St George (61.1 per cent) were not far behind. Sutherland scored the lowest of the five hospitals at 56.5 per cent.

Liverpool (86.1 per cent) was well above the state average of 76.2 per cent in the T4 category, followed by Campbelltown (80.2 per cent), St George (78.1 per cent), Sutherland (75.3 per cent) and Fairfield (71.8 per cent).

All but Sutherland Hospital (91.1 per cent) bested the state's average (92.2 per cent) for non-urgent cases.

Additionally, all five hospitals saw patients spending longer than the state average amount of time in emergency departments.

NSW patients spent a median two hours and 55 minutes in emergency, and only Fairfield Hospital came close to that figure, logging a median of two hours and 57 minutes.

Campbelltown was the worst performer at four hours and 12 minutes, followed by Liverpool (three hours and 57 minutes), St George (three hours and 31 minutes) and Sutherland (three hours and 30 minutes).

Fairfield Hospital also performed best when it came to the percentage of patients leaving emergency within four or fewer hours, coming in at 75.5 per cent, above the state average of 69.8 per cent.

Campbelltown again performed the worst in this category (and also the worst in the state) at 48.1 per cent. Liverpool was next (51.6 per cent), then Sutherland (61.3 per cent) and St George (62 per cent).

The statistics were more positive when it came to elective surgeries.

One hundred per cent of all urgent elective surgeries were performed on time in all five hospitals, and all but St George bested the state average for semi-urgent elective surgeries.

Ninety-six per cent of all NSW patients with semi-urgent elective surgeries were treated on time, and Liverpool (99.4 per cent), Campbelltown (97.9 per cent), Sutherland (97.6 per cent) and Fairfield (97.2 per cent) scored better than average. St George was not too far behind on 92.4 per cent.

Only Fairfield bested the state average (93.1 per cent) on non-urgent elective surgeries with 95.6 per cent.

Sutherland was next best on 93.1 per cent, followed by Campbelltown (92.4 per cent), Liverpool (82.2 per cent) and St George (82 per cent).

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) has urged the NSW Government to bring forward its planned 5000 health 'workforce boost', as promised at the last election, in light of the evolving COVID-19 crisis and increased pressures on emergency departments.

"Nurses and midwives were already facing burn-out and fatigue after a difficult winter, but they pushed on through summer and the devastating bushfire season, only to be confronted with the global health crisis that is COVID-19," NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said.

"We implore the NSW Government to acknowledge its own hospital data. Yet again, it shows just how much nurses are battling on, feeling under-resourced, unsupported and under mounting pressure."

Labor MPs were quick to criticise the results, including opposition spokesman for health, Ryan Park.

"It is not good enough to have all hospitals in the fast-growing areas of both western and south-western Sydney to record the worst results for emergency waiting times across the state," he said.

"What's alarming is that this data ends in December, before COVID-19 spread to NSW.

"We're alarmed that if our hospital system was already under such strain then how well are we placed to respond to this pandemic?"

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren said he was 'devastated' to see poor results and called for urgent investment in the western Sydney health system.

The state government announced a funding boost on Thursday to help NSW Health handle the COVID-19 crisis, with an extra $700 million to help with things like ICU capacity, the purchase of equipment and more.

A South Western Sydney Local Health District spokeswoman said hospital staff had worked "incredibly hard" to deal with the increased number of patients "requiring specialised and more complex care in the October to December 2019 quarter".

"The District's EDs treated nearly 7800 patients, an increase of four per cent, or 3307 more presentations compared to the same period in 2018, which included substantial increases in the numbers of patients who needed resuscitation, emergency and urgent care," she said.

"Liverpool Hospital was the busiest ED in District in [this period]. Emergency Department presentations increased by 5.5 per cent, or 1292 more presentations, to 24,572.

"Despite this increased demand, 73.7 per cent of patients started their treatment on time, above the peer result, and 51.6 per cent of patients left the ED within four hours, an improvement of 2.4 percentage points."

The spokeswoman said Campbelltown Hospital experienced the District's highest increase in demand for emergency care, treating an additional 996 emergency triage patients.

"The increase in demand at Campbelltown was reflected in the report with a decline of 7.4 percentage points in the number of patients starting their treatment on time," she said.

"Our District is continuously reviewing our performance and models of care to improve waiting times with a number of strategies in place.

"Our EDs are also receiving significant redevelopments to increase capacity to meet the needs of our fast growing region well into the future."