HUNDREDS of extra people presented to the Bathurst Hospital emergency department (ED) in the first three months of this year compared with the same time last year, new figures show.
There were 6763 presentations to the Bathurst ED in the first quarter of 2019, up eight per cent on the 6262 in the first quarter of 2018, according to the latest Bureau of Health Information quarterly report.
Bathurst Hospital general manager Cathy Marshall said a number of strategies had been put in place in the ED to cope with the increased numbers.
"This has included using nurse practitioners, working with medical staff where required, to care for less urgent cases," she said.
A physiotherapist assesses and treats some sporting and muscular injuries, and an after hours GP clinic operates on site.
The new quarterly report shows EDs in western NSW were swamped by thousands of extra patients due, in part, to an earlier-than-usual flu season.
During the first quarter of 2019, 46,938 people attended one of the region's EDs - up 5.1pc on the 44,658 during the same quarter last year.
Of those, 233 attendances were for a resuscitation (up 3.6pc) and there were 4690 presentations for a life-threatening emergency (up 7.6pc).
The biggest jump was at Lachlan Health Service, Forbes, which had a 23.5pc increase in presentations (from 1664 patients to 2055).
Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan said despite the increase, 86.2pc of patients in Forbes were treated within clinically recommended time frames.
Mudgee's ED had the second-highest growth in presentations - up 11.9pc from 2699 to 3019 people.
Patient numbers in Orange's ED jumped by 6.8pc from 7297 to 7792, while Dubbo had the smallest growth in presentations, up by 6.2pc from 8085 to 8588.
Lithgow Hospital's ED, which is located in the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, had a 7.9pc jump in presentations (from 3059 to 3301).
Despite the flood of sick and injured people into EDs across western NSW, every hospital treated the most urgent cases within clinically recommended time frames.
Mr McLachlan said the district had performed well in key areas and it demonstrated that local hospitals could handle complex emergency cases.
"Getting patients to hospitals that can provide the right level of care is critical, particularly when there is a very severe injury or illness," he said.
"It's testament to the work of our staff, and the investment in our hospitals, that we can see our role in complex emergency work strengthening."