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Our emergency department performance

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The University Hospital Geelong Emergency Department has seen annual attendance numbers increase by almost 7000 over the past five years and reached 69,607 in 2016/17.

Spikes in rates of seasonal illnesses such as influenza placed additional pressure on our Emergency Department resources in 2017 with 18,140 presentations seen between July and September, compared to 16,870 the previous year.

So far in 2017/18, we have seen a rise in presentations to our Emergency Department of 8.1 per cent. We have also seen Category One, Category Two and Category Three presentations increase by 19.8 per cent. This equates to approximately 20 additional high acuity patients attending the University Hospital Emergency Department per day.

Our Emergency Department consistently treats 100 per cent of Category One emergency patients immediately upon arrival. These are our most urgent patients.

Our most recent statistics for 2017/18 show the percentage of patients seen within 10 minutes for a Category Two presentation is now 77 per cent, which is above the peer average of the major Victorian hospitals. Considering the increase in high acuity patients attending our Emergency Department, our staff are working very well to ensure that those with the most immediate needs are able to receive high quality care first.

It should be noted the hospitals listed in the peer group are metropolitan hospitals with the capability to divert ambulance services to other sites as required. While Geelong’s private hospitals do have emergency departments, the University Hospital Geelong Emergency Department is the only one in our region equipped to manage certain scenarios such as stroke, trauma and paediatric inpatients.

With regards to the average time spent in the Emergency Department, there is a government-set target of four hours. Currently the percentage of patients seen and discharged from our Emergency Department within four hours is 83 per cent (4 per cent improvement on the same period last year). This rate places the University Hospital Geelong Emergency Department within the top five in Victoria.

These significant improvements can be attributed to a number of changes Barwon Health has made to the way its Emergency Department operates over the past 12 months. Emergency staff now work in teams to help spread and manage work load. We have an increased presence of Senior Emergency Specialists to aid in more rapid decision making around patient care paths. We have also opened a new paediatric short stay unit, as well as expanding the capacity of the adult short stay unit to allow for better patient flow.

Whilst working more efficiently, our focus on quality care has remained high. This is reflected in the recent Victorian Health Experience Survey from September 2017 which showed that 91 per cent of paediatric attendances had a positive Emergency Department experience. This result was the highest in Victoria.

The increases in attendance which we have seen are above the population growth for our region. Despite this increase in demand our Emergency Department has been able to improve across almost all domains. We are proud of our hard-working emergency staff who have been able to work more efficiently while still maintaining their ability to deliver high quality care to the Geelong region 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Spokesperson: Dr Michael Sheridan, Emergency Director, University Hospital Geelong