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New data show that ambulance waiting time reached record highs during Omicron’s jump to NSW

According to new data, patients in New Wales faced longer waits for ambulances and ambulances in emergency departments when the state struggled with the COVID-19 Omicron option.
The health care system was in a tense state as the non-urgent planned operation was suspended and the government eased some health restrictions from January to March 2022, new statistics from the BHI’s quarterly report show.

“From January to March, the subsequent resumption of some early-term planned operations and the easing of public health restrictions were also suspended,” said BHI CEO Dr. Diane Watson.


About 734,704 people visited emergency departments during this period, which is 2.8 percent less than before the pandemic in 2019, but much higher than five years ago.
The total number of people admitted to the hospital due to ED decreased by 15.6 percent compared to the pre-pandemic level, and these people usually waited longer.
One quarter of people waited just four hours or less, and one in ten waited more than 18 hours 29 minutes in ED – rising from 13 hours and 24 minutes before the pandemic.

About 326,544 ambulance responses were made during the period, which is 6.1 percent more than before the pandemic.


Demand for ambulances has been growing steadily over the past five years, and a record number of top priorities have been considered.
On average, ambulances took 8.8 minutes to arrive on calls with the highest priority, the longest response time since 2010.
Only 60.2% of responses to high-priority calls were achieved within the benchmark ten minutes, which is the lowest result since 2010.
The average ambulance arrival took 15.7 minutes, the longest waiting result, according to BHI.

Early scheduled operations were suspended during this period to ease demand for the system.

In March 2022, 100,980 people were waiting for the planned operation, which was close to the peak of 101,024 in mid-2020, with about 18,627 people longer than recommended.


Almost all those waiting were classified as non-urgent and semi-urgent.
Demand for the planned operation fell 27.8 percent from the pre-pandemic level.
Every tenth patient who underwent non-urgent surgery waited more than a year and 100 days.
NSW Health Minister Susan Pierce said the period was one of the most challenging in the pandemic, and she is grateful to medical staff for their work.
“The work they have done – and continue to do – to care for the people of New Wales is excellent,” said Mrs Pierce.
“We have never seen such a period before, from the huge number of COVID-19 cases to thousands of laid off staff, and I want to thank the community for their understanding and patience when we faced many challenges that arose along the way. “
Emergency departments remain under significant pressure due to cases of COVID-19 and an outbreak of influenza infection that affects staff numbers, Ms. Pierce said.
These problems have been addressed by increasing bed capacity, placing available clinical staff in high-demand care areas and improving the timeliness of patient discharge.
She said the community can do its part only by using emergency departments and ambulances in emergencies.
Since easing the pause in planned operations, the government has invested $ 485.5 million in expedited procedures, Ms. Pierce added.

The government has also committed to recruiting 10,148 full-time staff to the hospital over the next four years under NSW’s future budget.


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