Mrs Skinner was accompanied by Member for Parramatta Dr Geoff Lee and Member for Granville Tony Issa as she toured the emergency department and met staff.
Mrs Skinner said Westmead Hospital has dramatically improved its National Emergency Access Target (NEAT), which measures the percentage of patients who leave the emergency department within four hours.
When the NSW Liberals and National came to government in March 2011, Westmead’s monthly NEAT figure was 34%. In January 2013 the monthly result grew to 43.8%. By November 2013 it rose to 63% before reaching a record 73.7% in December – an increase of almost 30% in a year.
“Much is asked of staff in a major trauma hospital such as Westmead – which treats more than 63,000 emergency department patients a year – and much is being delivered,” Mrs Skinner said.
“The NSW Government committed $5 million to upgrade the emergency department, which I was proud to officially open in July last year.
“This physical redesign has improved flow, particularly around the ambulance bay, which has been a significant factor in the startling improvement in NEAT – but it is by no means the only factor.
“It is the local clinicians and staff working across the entire hospital system – from presentation and admission right through to discharge – who are driving change through new models of care and for this I thank them.
“Credit is also due to the Ministry of Health’s Whole of Hospital Program, which commenced in February 2013. This statewide program supports improved practices throughout hospitals, such as better bed management in wards, which allows admitted patients to leave the emergency department sooner and move to a ward.”
Mrs Skinner said results for all 23 hospitals participating in the Whole of Hospital Program will shortly be available.
“While Westmead Hospital will be a standout performer, I understand other hospitals, in regional centres as well as Sydney, will show marked improvement in their NEAT.
“This increased efficiency is vital as we strive to deliver the highest standards of care in the face of the growing demand on our health system.”
Dr Matthew Vukasovic is the head of emergency medicine at Westmead Hospital. “The 30% jump in monthly NEAT in the 2013 calendar year was achieved despite a 15% increase in ambulance presentations and a 9% increase in the total number of presentations to the emergency department compared with the previous year.
“The emergency department staff have worked tirelessly to embrace new models of care, which are delivering faster, more efficient service,” Dr Vukasovic said.
Dr Vukasovic said enhancements to the emergency department included:
• A Safe T Zone – patients are assessed by senior doctors within 20 minutes of arrival to provide a plan for care and treatment;
• The Early Treatment Zone – a patient’s treatment plan is commenced rather than having the return to the waiting room;
• The Urgent Care Centre – less complex patients are rapidly assessed and discharged;
• The Resuscitation Bay – the most critically unwell patients get priority assessment and treatment.
Mr Issa congratulated Westmead Hospital staff on their outstanding performance.
“Without the determination of frontline staff to deliver the highest standards of care as efficiently as possible, a result such as this would not be possible.
“After 16 years of Labor neglect, I am proud that the NSW Liberals & Nationals has a commitment to rebuilding our ageing hospital to ensure it is equal to the high standards of care practiced by staff.”
It is expected the first stage of the redevelopment of Westmead Hospital would co-locate all complex and critical care services into a multi-storey comprehensive care centre to improve the treatment of critically ill emergency patients, trauma and surgical patients.
This centre would include up to 12 state-of-the-art operating theatres, extra inpatient beds and further expansion of the emergency department.