Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital is short of the mark in terms of meeting time frames. Picture: John McCutcheon
Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital is short of the mark in terms of meeting time frames. Picture: John McCutcheon

Worst hospitals in our state of emergency

ALMOST every hospital across the state is failing to meet critical benchmarks for emergency department and surgery waiting times, latest data shows.

News Queensland can reveal not one hospital and health service met the 25-day median waiting time for elective surgery last financial year, with some blowing out by hundreds of days.

The median waiting time for surgery in the central west region was a shocking 259 days - its target is 25 days.

In 2015 Queensland had the best elective surgery waiting times in the country with an average of 27 days.

In 2017-18, only two services - North West and Central West - met the emergency department waiting times benchmark.

Emergency departments in the southeast were the worst performing in the state, with the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Metro South and Metro North all falling well short of expectations.

While all four services met the benchmark of seeing category-one patients in their EDs, their performance for category-two and three slipped well below the targets.

Metro North, which includes the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, lost 68 beds from the previous financial year.

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Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the reports showed our health system was in complete crisis.

"Our hardworking nurses, doctors and paramedics need more support on the frontline to improve patient care," she said.

"Our hospital system is a complete mess, many of our hospitals elective surgery and ED times have blown out, while others are struggling to stay afloat financially."

But Health Minister Steven Miles defended the results yesterday saying Queensland's hospitals treated an extra 15,400 more patients than last year.

Health Minister Steven Miles
Health Minister Steven Miles

"In 2017-18 our emergency departments saw over 1.9 million patients - that's an increase of 3.2 per cent compared to the previous financial year and 10.3 per cent since 2014-15," he said.

"As well as overall growth in demand, there was a 9.9 per cent increase in the most urgent presentations."

He said 99 per cent of all category-one patients were seen within the recommended time. Mr Miles also blamed skyrocketing GP costs on putting extra pressure on our hospitals.

"Unfortunately, we've seen GPs and primary healthcare become less accessible and affordable in Queensland, particularly in our regions," he said.

Financially, seven of 16 hospital and health Services are in deficit, with the total deficit hitting $37.2 million.

Queensland Children's Health and Cairns Hinterland Hospital and Health Service both reported cost blow outs.

Children's Health put the $10 million overspend on costs associated with introducing the new electronic patient record system and Cairns is still being plagued by historic problems.

Two years after its then board resigned amid fallout over a looming $80 million budget deficit, the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service board insists it is regaining financial ground.

"We have continued to improve the organisation's financial position during the past year and reduced our deficit by almost $10 million more than expected."

The HHS's deficit came in at $19.6 million rather than the previously forecast $29.5 million.

LNP health spokeswoman Ros Bates said rather than wasting money changing the name of hospitals, the Government should be focusing on improving patient care.

"It's clear that (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk's Health Minister isn't up to the job, and these annual reports show the real story of Queensland's public health system lurching from crisis to crisis," she said.

Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital is short of the mark in terms of meeting time frames. Picture: John McCutcheon
Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital is short of the mark in terms of meeting time frames. Picture: John McCutcheon

Coast health not so sunny

THE $1.8 billion state-of-the-art hospital built to fix the booming Sunshine Coast's health

woes is failing to meet recommended emergency department and elective surgery time frames.

Queensland's newest hospital, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, opened 18 months ago at Kawana and was a much-feted State Government initiative.

The first public hospital delivered as a public-private partnership, it promised to "address the growing health service needs of the community''.

However figures from Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service for the 2017-18 financial year show it is well short of the mark in terms of meeting timeframes.

While 100 per cent of category-one patients are recommended to be seen within two minutes, only 97 per cent are seen in that time in the region.

Only 68 per cent of category-two patients are seen within the recommended 10-minute mark and only 61 per cent of category-three patients are attended to within the preferred 30-minute time frame.

The median waiting time for elective surgery is 39 days, short of the target of 25 days.

Hospital and health service chairwoman Dr Lorraine Ferguson, in her official statement in the report, said it had been "a year of great challenges, important milestones and wonderful achievements''.

Insiders say Sunshine Coast University Hospital, which opened with about 450 beds with plans to grow to 738 beds by 2021, is struggling to cope with current staffing level.

LNP Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle this week raised concerns about worsening ramping at the hospital.

Ramping is how long a patient lies on a trolley before they are treated.

Additional reporting Sarah Vogler & Jack McKay

 


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