ORTHOPAEDIC wait times have ballooned since last year, but it’s the sign of a more efficient system, according to hospital management.
The wait time for an orthopedic operation has doubled, with 256 days the median time at Tamworth hospital during the January to March quarter in 2017, according to figures from the Bureau of Health Information (BHI).
Compared to the same quarter in 2016, the median time was only 111 days.
While there’s a significant wait for the operation, general manager for the Peel cluster of hospitals, Catherine Death, said it has cut out a different anxious wait for patients.
“They’re not waiting to see a surgeon as long,” Ms Death told The Leader.
“The system has been fast-tracked.”
Ms Death said patients are seeing surgeons earlier and getting a date for surgery and are not having the “anxious wait” associated with not knowing whether they need surgery or not.
“Their wait-times are starting earlier,” she said.
“They’re sitting at home wondering if they need surgery.”
Ms Death said all surgeries at Tamworth hospital were being performed within the clinically appropriate time-frames.
The wait list for orthopaedic surgery, however, condensed. There were 189 people waiting for orthopaedic surgery at Tamworth in the 2017 quarter.
More than 20 per cent less than the number of patients ready for surgery in the 2016 period, when there was 244 people waiting for their operation.
Meanwhile, emergency department visits at the rural referral hospital continue to grow.
More than 11,000 (11,172) visited the ED putting the hospital on track to see 46,000 patients this year.
Three quarters (75.3 per cent) spent four hours or less in emergency.
While the majority of patients are getting through quicker, Ms Death said Tamworth was performing well in other measures which prove emergency visitors are getting quality care too.
Ms Death pointed to favourable figures for Tamworth with rates of readmission in 24 and 48 hours, as well as over 28 days.
The constant climb in ED visitations was put down to a number of factors by Ms Death.
She said a growing and ageing population in region and perhaps access to GPs were bringing more people to the hospital.
For the first time, the BHI figures also looked at ambulance performance in the region.
New England Zone paramedics got to 92 per cent of call outs within the 30 minute benchmark for “urgent” incidents. This was slightly down on the state average of 94.7 per cent.
Overall, there were 8919 responses by New England Zone ambulances in the first quarter of 2017.