Bureau of Health Information's Bathurst Hospital data

Bathurst Hospital. Photo: FILE
Bathurst Hospital. Photo: FILE

THE worst flu season on record is being blamed for an 11 per cent increase in patient numbers at Bathurst Hospital’s emergency department (ED).

An extra 709 people presented at the ED for treatment from July to September this year, compared to the same period in 2016, new data from the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) reveals.

Of the 6863 people who attended Bathurst’s ED during this quarter, the largest increase was those categorised as triage three with symptoms such as dehydration or moderate blood loss.

The number of people in this triage category jumped from 1854 last year to 2453 this quarter, up by 599 people.

On September 17, the Western Advocate reported that the number of people with the flu had more than doubled compared to last year’s cases.

More than 160,000 people had contracted the flu in Australia, Health Department figures show, compared with 75,818 cases for the same time last year. 

A Western NSW Local Health District spokeswoman said the high number of flu cases were behind Bathurst Hospital’s “peak in activity” in the ED.

There were 6863 emergency presentations at Bathurst Base Hospital which is an increase of almost 12 per cent when compared to the same quarter last year.

Western NSW Local Health District spokeswoman

“There were 6863 emergency presentations at Bathurst Base Hospital which is an increase of almost 12 per cent when compared to the same quarter last year and higher than the NSW average of 9.4 per cent,” she said.

The spokeswoman said people presented to the ED with flu symptoms including fever, muscle pain, coughs and a sore throat.

“We thank our staff for their dedication and hard work to ensure patients continue to receive high quality and timely care even in the face of unprecedented demand on our services as we experienced this quarter, during the worst flu season on record,” she said.

Meanwhile, there was a slight drop in the number of people presenting at Bathurst ED with a triage two emergency (chest pain or severe burns) this quarter, from 698 to 670.

The median time taken to leave Bathurst’s ED during this quarter was two hours and 42 minutes, which was an increase of 13 minutes on same period last year.

Meanwhile, the BHI data also shows how long patients wait for an ambulance after it has been called.

In the Central West One zone, of which Bathurst and Oberon are included, 93 per cent emergency patients waited less than 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene.

While 98 per cent of urgent patients waited less than 60 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.