JANUARY 6 2017 – 8:18PM
Christmas Eve kicked off the busiest week ever for the Canberra Hospital’s emergency department.
And that week, ending January 2, marked yet another year-on-year rise in admissions for both Canberra’s emergency departments.
The Canberra Hospital’s ED saw a jump of 18 per cent for presentations and 26 per cent for admissions compared to the same period last year, while Calvary Hospital had a rise of 13 per cent in presentations and 23 per cent in admissions.
They collectively reported 4012 presentations over that week.
The busiest day for both EDs was December 29, with 265 presentations at Canberra Hospital and 180 at Calvary.
Canberra Hospital emergency department clinical director Greg Hollis said staff were equipped and prepared to manage the rise in demand.
“The Christmas and New Year period was busy as always and we planned for that, however this year we had the most presentations we’ve ever had,” Dr Hollis said.
“I looked closely at the demographics and the increase in activity seems to be across the sector. We had the usual mix of holiday illness and injury, alcohol intake, catching up on household chores and injuring themselves.”
Dr Hollis said alcohol-related admissions were on par with recent years, however he observed a spike in admissions related to gastro intestinal illnesses.
Another factor he attributed the holiday rush to was treating trauma patients injured as far as the Victorian border, Sydney, the Sapphire Coast and Wagga Wagga.
Though Dr Hollis did not have exact figures, he was confident more than 50 per cent of patients in the ED department that week arrived and left the hospital within the clinically recommended timeframe of four hours.
He said this figure was 78 per cent for the overall month – almost a 30 per cent increase on 2015.
Calvary Hospital emergency department co-director Matt Luther saw a rise in chest pain, breathing issues and mental health problems over the Christmas and New Years break.
“Mental health problems are particularly heightened that time of year when people are in different places with varying support around, and others not having anyone to share that holiday with,” Mr Luther said.
“Then certainly through holiday periods we do see people in social settings such as in Civic and obviously with alcohol as part of our culture, excessive alcohol consumption relates to an increase in alcohol related violence this time of year.”
Mr Luther said the Calvary Hospital’s ED had seen a steady year on year increase in presentations of around 10 per cent in recent years, while this figure was up 20 per cent at Canberra Hospital.
Both Dr Hollis and Mr Luther were confident emergency department performances were improving and would continue to in 2017, despite the surge in patients.
Last May, the ACT government announced a significant boost to staff numbers at Canberra Hospital’s emergency department, taking on an extra 54 full-timers over the next four years.
It came after a 2015 Productivity Commission report recorded Canberra’s wait times as the longest in the country, and Australian Medical Association data also showed only 48 per cent of emergency department patients in Canberra were seen within recommended time.
Both reports showed the government has struggled to fix waiting times at the emergency department.
Source : The Canberra Times