Waiting times blow out for some as Base Hospital emergency patient numbers increase

BALLARAT Base Hospital is taking longer to treat patients who present to the emergency department with non-life threatening conditions, according to new data.

CEO Andrew Rowe. FILE IMAGE

CEO Andrew Rowe. FILE IMAGE

Ballarat rates second behind Bendigo in the time taken to treat emergency situations, new figures from the National Health Performance Authority show. 

At the Base Hospital, there have been significant blowouts in waiting times for conditions considered not an emergency. 

Ballarat Health Services chief executive officer Andrew Rowe said more patients needing urgent treatment were coming into the emergency department. 

“What we have seen in recent times is a significant increase in patients treated. We’ve (also) seen a significant increase in the acuity of patients treated,” Mr Rowe said.

“If you were to look at the general health status of the Ballarat and Grampians area, it is poorer than most other parts of the state.”

The NHPA grades hospitals on the proportion of patients seen within the time recommended for their category.

Emergency patients should be seen within 10 minutes, urgent patients within 30, and semi-urgent within 60 minutes. 

The hospital’s treatment of patients within the accepted time frames has dropped by 13 per cent for urgent cases and 15 per cent for semi-urgent cases over the past two years. 

In the same time frame, 25 per cent more patients with an emergency condition were treated. 

Non-urgent cases, which would signify symptoms usually attended to by a GP, have gone down 15 per cent.

Mr Rowe puts this down to the increased availability of GPs across Ballarat. 

The emergency department has been overloaded several times in the past year, with patients waiting more than double the times recommended by the NHPA.

Emergency depart-ment data was not available for St John of God Hospital in Ballarat, but a spokesperson from the NHPA said private hospitals were not obliged to provide numbers. 

alex.hamer@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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