PATIENTS in Tamworth hospital's emergency department are coming in sicker and with more complex problems.
Emergency departments across the state have been swamped with more patients than ever before, a Bureau of Health Information report reveals.
This quarter the ED has seen a lot of patients present with respiratory illnesses and chest pain, Tamworth hospital general manager Yvonne Patrick said.
"If we look at our triage categories, our more sick patients and more complex patients have increased," she said.
"Patients are sicker calling ambulances and that can be for a variety of reasons.
"We've had an increase in transport from rural sites and residential aged care facilities; our data is showing patients are more complex."
There are 45 beds in Tamworth's emergency department and 70 per cent of patients leave within four hours of arrival.
Nearly 15 per cent more patients have arrived by ambulance than at the same time last year.
The hospital has recruited several senior doctors to the ED in recent months and renewed its focus on a whole-of-hospital approach to patient flows, Ms Patrick said.
"We try to offer early treatment in our fast-track zone," she said.
"And we have a continued focus on utilisation of all of our beds across Tamworth and the wider Peel - that includes Quirindi, Gunnedah, Manilla and Barraba."
Mental health presentations have increased, with 42 more patients admitted to ED between January and March this year.
"I think for Tamworth, the ED is performing well: the majority of patients leave in under three hours," Ms Patricks said.
"Our staff go above and beyond to meet the demands of community.
"In essence we hold Tamworth ED as a first-rate department and place of choice to come to work. We have a very solid team here."
Fewer elective surgeries were performed, but 99.9 per cent of those were on time.