ELECTIVE surgery waiting times at Bathurst Hospital continue to drop in some specialties.
Ear, nose and throat, ophthalmology and cataract extraction surgeries once had a waiting time of nine to 10 months, but they have dropped for the second consecutive quarter.
An ear, nose and throat surgery patient now waits an average of 81 days, while opthalmology or cataract extraction are now completed in a median of 192 days, Bureau of Health Information (BHI) quarterly data for April to June 2017 shows.
“There has been a focus on all surgical demand over this period at Bathurst Base, creating flexibility in theatre times to allow for better management of elective waiting lists,” a Western NSW Local Health District spokeswoman said.
“ENT [ear, nose and throat] has been a particular focus.”
Waiting times on orthopaedic surgery, total hip and knee replacements, have increased compared with the same quarter last year.
“The increase in orthopaedic surgery, knee and hips, is due to having two surgeons who have built up their own local practice in Bathurst,” the spokeswoman said.
“This means that more residents from Bathurst and surrounding areas are now choosing to have their surgery at Bathurst. Bathurst Base has two local orthopaedic surgeons on staff plus two visiting orthopaedic surgeons from Orange.”
Waiting times in Bathurst Hospital’s emergency department (ED) for all triage categories were below the state average.
This was despite an increase in patient numbers.
In this reporting quarter, 6203 patients presented to the ED compared to 5864 during the same period last year.
“Bathurst ED has implemented a streaming model of care, where patients are assessed at triage and directed to one of three areas: a nurse practitioner, a Fast Track or Acute Care within the ED,” the spokeswoman said.
“This model of care has enabled the hospital to maintain a strong performance in the ED, despite increasing demands.”
Notably, the number of presentations for triage five category patients – those with non-urgent conditions such as a small cut or abrasion – fell from 955 people to 857.
“More people are choosing to see their GP first, with many patients presenting to the After Hours GP clinic on site at Bathurst Hospital,” the spokeswoman said.
She said Bathurst Hospital staff should be congratulated for their performance during the high demands placed on them during the winter season.
“This winter has created very high demand in all hospitals, and the flu season has started earlier than in previous years,” she said.