Tamworth hospital experiences busiest period on record thanks to heavy flu season

BLESS YOU: Tamworth hospital smashed over record breaking flu season.
BLESS YOU: Tamworth hospital smashed over record breaking flu season.

THIS year’s flu season saw a record blow-out in visits to Tamworth hospital’s emergency room.

From July to September this year, 12,366 people walked through the doors to the emergency department which is the busiest quarter for the hospital on record, The Leader can reveal.

This quarter’s emergency figure, during one of the worst flu seasons the state has experienced in recent years, according to health experts, jumped by more than 13 per cent from the same period last year.

The blow-out in emergency visits had a flow-on effect with an increase of hospital admissions from emergency visits and it also saw people spending longer in the waiting room.

Less than two-thirds (63.3 per cent) of people waited under four hours for treatment, this figure dropped more than 11 per cent from last year.

If you heard more sirens blaring around Tamworth, you weren’t mistaken, the number of people being taken to hospital in an ambulance also ballooned.

There were 2,116 ambulance arrivals at the emergency department between July and September, equating to 23 hospital visits a day.

RECORD BREAKER: Winter was the busiest period ever for the hospital. Photo: Peter Hardin

RECORD BREAKER: Winter was the busiest period ever for the hospital. Photo: Peter Hardin

Tamworth hospital general manager Catharine Death said the heavy flu season played a part in the hectic winter period.

Ms Death said it was reminiscent of working in Westmead hospital during the swine flu outbreak.

At one point the emergency department was seeing 180 people a day in winter.

The spike in figures wasn’t purely down to the flu, Ms Death said there was a range of presentations from “young people with serious pneumonia”, to patients with chronic lung and heart conditions, as well as “a lot of trauma” from car and farm accidents and broken bones.

Ms Death encouraged people to get immunised earlier in the season next year.

The figures were compiled by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI), whose acting chief executive Kim Sutherland said hospital across the state were under the pump this winter.

“Winter is typically the busiest quarter for NSW public hospitals, but this winter season was particularly busy for emergency departments throughout the state,” Dr Sutherland said.

The report showed more than 720,000 patients presented to a NSW public hospital emergency department – the highest number ever recorded by BHI and 9.4 per cent higher than the same quarter last year.