A look at Victoria's hospital and ambulance performance data

Tuesday, 04 August, 2020

A look at Victoria's hospital and ambulance performance data

Hospital and ambulance performance data shows Victoria’s health services have continued to provide high-quality health care, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic.

Substantial reductions in hospitalisations, emergency department (ED) visits and ambulance callouts have been reported over the past three months as Victorians have adhered to stay-at-home messages to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Emergency department visits

ED visits fell by 25% compared with the same time last year, with 357,449 people presenting for treatment. The average wait time was 12 minutes, with 80.15% of all ED patients seen within the benchmark times.

As there were fewer ED presentations and a reduction in elective surgery, there was a corresponding decrease in hospitalisations — 408,837 Victorians stayed in hospital overnight, down by 84,435 from the previous year.

Ambulance crews

Despite time-consuming additional decontamination and PPE requirements, paramedic crews have responded to more than 17,300 potential coronavirus cases over the last three months — an average of 191 per day.

There were 66,906 ambulance callouts for the quarter, a decrease of 11% compared with the previous year. The average response time of 11 minutes and 47 seconds remained under the 15-minute benchmark, supported by the government’s fast-tracking of 120 extra paramedic recruits for the expected increase in demand.

Coordination between Ambulance Victoria and Victorian hospitals has improved, with data showing 86.54% of patients were transferred from the ambulance to the hospital ED within the benchmark 40 minutes — up by 5.48% compared with the same time last year.

Elective surgery

To ensure hospitals had the capacity to manage additional demand in response to the pandemic, National Cabinet made the decision to postpone all non-urgent elective surgery across the country throughout the reporting period, which has seen the number of patients waiting for elective surgery increase.

The Victorian Government has advised that it will recommence an elective surgery blitz as soon as it is safe to do so; however, with non-urgent elective surgery being postponed again this week to create capacity for aged-care transfers, the waiting list is expected to continue to grow in the short term.

Overall, patients that received surgery during the last quarter received it quicker, with the average time to treat sitting at 20.5 days — 7.5 days less than the same time last year and 12.5 days less than the previous quarter. This is also considerably better than the 2018–19 national average of 41 days.

“The coronavirus pandemic represents the biggest challenge our health system has ever seen, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way all our dedicated healthcare workers have risen to the occasion,” Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said.

“Our health system has proven to be well-prepared, adaptable and resilient, and all Victorians can be reassured that whether they’re presenting with coronavirus or not, our health services are ready to provide care to those who need it, when they need it.

“We know this will be an anxious time for those waiting for a procedure, but our focus right now has to be on responding to the pandemic. These sacrifices are vital to keeping our state safe and preventing our health system from being overwhelmed.”

The latest data shows that the state’s doctors, nurses, paramedics and everyone else who helps keep hospitals running have done an outstanding job caring for Victorians, despite all the challenges this pandemic has thrown at them.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to innovations and improvements that will have long-term benefits for our health system, such as workforce upskilling, greater bed flexibility, more telehealth appointments and hospital-in-the-home services, and greater coordination between all levels of  health services and partner agencies.

With the ongoing high number of cases over the past month leading to more Victorians in hospital with coronavirus, and a further postponement of non-urgent elective surgery in July, Victoria’s next quarterly data will likely reflect the ongoing challenges our health system faces as we move through the pandemic.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/blondsteve

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