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Health News

Latest quarterly healthcare report provides new insights on longer stays for overnight admitted patients in NSW public hospitals

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Latest Quarterly Healthcare Report by BHI
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Latest quarterly healthcare report provides new insights on longer stays for overnight admitted patients in NSW public hospitals

 

The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has today released its latest Healthcare Quarterly report, showing activity and performance for public health services in NSW during April to June 2023.

BHI Chief Executive Dr Diane Watson said the latest quarterly results show NSW public health services continued to experience high demand in the second quarter of this year.

“In April to June 2023, ambulance response times improved from the record long waits the same time one year ago,” said Dr Watson. “The number of elective surgery patients on the waiting list who had waited longer than recommended also halved.”

There were 357,491 ambulance responses – the highest of any quarter since BHI began reporting in 2010. For the highest priority (P1A) patients with life-threatening conditions, the median response time was 8.3 minutes, compared with 9.1 minutes in April to June 2022.

There were 770,564 emergency department (ED) attendances – fewer than the same quarter a year earlier but slightly more than pre-pandemic levels.

65.8% of all ED patients had their treatment start on time – up slightly on 62.8% in the same quarter last year. However, just 56.7% of patients left the ED within four hours – compared with 57.6% a year earlier.

There were 60,499 elective – or planned – surgeries performed – 12.6% more than during the same quarter last year and slightly above pre-pandemic levels.

Almost 80% (79.0%) of all elective surgeries were performed on time – up from 74.7% a year earlier.

The number of patients on the waiting list who had waited longer than clinically recommended dropped to 9,142 – less than half the record 18,748 a year earlier.

Overnight patients admitted to NSW public hospitals spent 6.3 days in hospital on average – 12.5% longer than 5.6 days in April to June 2019 prior to the pandemic, following a notable increase in mid-2021.

Latest quarterly healthcare report with a man being treated

The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has today released its latest Healthcare Quarterly report, showing activity and performance for public health services in NSW during April to June 2023.

BHI conducted special analyses which identified two principal drivers of the longer stays since mid-2021, outlined in a Special Reporting section in the main report of this issue of Healthcare Quarterly.

“Our analyses found patients diagnosed with COVID-19 during their admission stayed twice as long in hospital on average as other patients, and those discharged to residential aged care stayed even longer,” said Dr Watson.

“For the small cohort of patients who received a COVID-19 diagnosis and were discharged to residential aged care, the average length of stay increased further.”

Results of the Adult Admitted Patient Survey 2022

BHI has also released the latest results of the Adult Admitted Patient Survey, which reflect what almost 20,000 people said about their experiences of care as admitted patients in NSW public hospitals in 2022.

“It is pleasing to see that most patients were positive about their experiences during their hospital stay,” said Dr Watson.

For example:

  • Around nine in 10 patients (92%) rated their hospital care, overall, as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.
  • Around seven in 10 patients (71%) said health professionals ‘definitely’ listened carefully to any views and concerns they had.
  • More than seven in 10 patients (74%) said their family and home situation was ‘definitely’ taken into account when they were discharged.
    Latest Quarterly Healthcare Report by BHI

    The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has today released its latest Healthcare Quarterly report, showing activity and performance for public health services in NSW during April to June 2023.

    While ratings were down a little on the 2021 survey for the majority of questions, it is important to note that COVID-19 was still prevalent in NSW during the survey period and activity and length of stays were up, which may have impacted experiences.

    “These survey results give healthcare professionals and system managers specific information about where they are doing well, and also areas where care could improve,” said Dr Watson.

    BHI’s new report, Snapshot – Adults admitted to hospital, Results from the 2022 patient survey also compares patients’ experiences in rural and urban hospitals, and examines patients’ experiences of virtual care appointments (via telephone or video call) following their discharge from hospital.

    Detailed results for Healthcare Quarterly and results of the Adult Admitted Patient Survey 2022 are available at bhi.nsw.gov.au

 

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Health News

Budget 2024-25: Rural Health Equity Remains Unaddressed

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Budget 2024-25: Rural Health Equity Remains Unaddressed

 

Statement by the National Rural Health Alliance

The recent Federal Budget has missed a crucial opportunity to tackle the persistent healthcare disparities between rural and urban Australia, asserts the National Rural Health Alliance.

Nicole O’Reilly, Chairperson of the National Rural Health Alliance, expressed disappointment at the budget’s failure to meet expectations. She emphasised the government’s lack of responsiveness to rural voices and its failure to commit to comprehensive reforms that would deliver sustainable and long-term benefits for rural communities.

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The statistics paint a stark picture: Australians living farther from urban centres have lower life expectancies and are twice as likely to succumb to preventable illnesses. Rural men and women face significantly higher risks of dying from avoidable causes compared to their urban counterparts. Alarmingly, many rural residents lack access to primary healthcare services within a reasonable distance from their homes, leading to reduced utilisation of Medicare services and exacerbating the burden of disease in remote areas.

O’Reilly highlighted the evidence indicating a significant disparity in healthcare spending, with each person in rural and remote Australia missing out on nearly $850 per year in healthcare access, totalling an annual rural health underspend of $6.5 billion.

The National Rural Health Alliance welcomed certain budget measures, such as the support for rural training opportunities through initiatives like the Charles Darwin University Menzies Medical Program and additional funding for the Royal Flying Doctors Service. However, O’Reilly stressed that these efforts alone are insufficient to address the diverse healthcare needs across rural and remote Australia.

While acknowledging positive steps, O’Reilly emphasised the urgent need for more comprehensive and sustained commitments to ensure equitable healthcare outcomes for rural and remote Australians. She urged the government to prioritise rural health reform in future budget allocations to ensure that all communities receive the care and support they deserve.

 

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Health News

New research partnership to tackle hearing loss

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New research partnership to tackle hearing loss

 

An exciting new collaboration has been established between the Ear Science Institute Australia and the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), uniting Australia’s leading hearing researchers in a concerted effort to enhance treatments for the millions affected by hearing impairments.

National Acoustics Laboratories Director, Brent Edwards, emphasised the significance of the collaboration, stating, “This partnership harnesses the collective expertise of some of Australia’s most dedicated and forward-thinking hearing researchers, all committed to profoundly improving hearing healthcare globally.”

Hearing loss is among the world’s most prevalent health issues, with projections suggesting that by 2050 nearly 2.5 billion individuals will experience some form of hearing impairment. This partnership aims to foster substantial advancements in the quality of life for those affected by hearing loss, both in Australia and worldwide.

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By pooling their vast resources and data, both institutions are poised to transform hearing health care. The Ear Science Institute Australia, recognised globally as a for-purpose center of excellence, combines scientific research, medical innovation, and clinical practice to pioneer new treatments for ear and hearing conditions, ultimately striving to discover a cure for hearing loss.

Ear Science Institute’s CEO, Sandra Bellekom, commented on the future implications of the partnership, “Looking forward, this alliance with National Acoustic Laboratories opens new pathways for sharing knowledge, which will enhance the delivery of cutting-edge, personalised hearing solutions and expand access to superior hearing care for people around the world.”

 

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Introduction of New Clinical Care Standard by ACSQHC to Address Psychotropic Medicine Use in Cognitive Disability and Impairment

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Introduction of New Clinical Care Standard by ACSQHC to Address Psychotropic Medicine Use in Cognitive Disability and Impairment

 

By Jeff Gibbs

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has today announced the launch of a pivotal new national standard aimed at enhancing the care for individuals with cognitive disabilities or impairments. The introduction of the Psychotropic Medicines in Cognitive Disability or Impairment Clinical Care Standard is a critical advancement in promoting safer and more effective treatment protocols across the healthcare spectrum.

Background and Rationale for the New Standard

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Recent decades have witnessed a 60% surge in the prescription of psychotropic medications across Australia. Despite a modest reduction in antipsychotic use among the elderly—prompted by heightened awareness of associated risks—the prescribing rates remain alarmingly high, particularly among vulnerable populations. Notably, older individuals and those residing in aged care facilities are disproportionately affected by the adverse effects of these medications, including cognitive decline, heightened risk of falls, strokes, and mortality. Additionally, approximately one-third of individuals with intellectual disabilities are prescribed psychotropic drugs, exposing them to potentially severe short and long-term side effects.

Scope and Impact of the Standard

The new Standard seeks to mitigate the inappropriate utilisation of psychotropic medications and emphasises patient safety. It priorities non-pharmacological interventions as the foremost approach for managing challenging behaviours such as aggression and agitation. Psychotropic medications are advised as a last-resort measure, following the ineffectiveness of alternative strategies or in situations posing significant risk to the individual or others.

The Standard advocates for tailored non-medication strategies that respect the individual’s needs and preferences, developed in consultation with their family and other authorised caregivers. This approach underscores the commitment to upholding the dignity and autonomy of individuals with cognitive impairments.

Expert Insights and Support

Key health experts have endorsed the significance of this new Standard. Conjoint Associate Professor Carolyn Hullick, Chief Medical Officer at the Commission, stresses the necessity for mindful prescribing practices given the limited benefits and substantial risks associated with psychotropic medications in this demographic. Professor Julian Trollor from the University of New South Wales and Juanita Breen from the University of Tasmania also highlight the importance of objective-driven prescribing, continuous monitoring, and the potential to reduce medication dosages in favour of non-pharmacological alternatives.

Implementation Across Settings

The Standard is applicable universally across various healthcare settings, including hospitals, aged care facilities, and community services, ensuring that individuals with cognitive disabilities receive consistent and coordinated care irrespective of the setting.

Professor Eddy Strivens emphasises the need for coordinated efforts and effective communication, particularly during care transitions, to maintain continuity and efficacy of treatment plans and to support decision-making processes that honour patient autonomy.

Collaborative Efforts for Enhanced Care

In a collective endeavour to address these issues, the Commission has collaborated with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to issue a Joint Statement against the misuse of psychotropics in managing behaviours in disabled and elderly populations.

Conclusion

The introduction of the Psychotropic Medicines in Cognitive Disability or Impairment Clinical Care Standard marks a significant step forward in improving the quality of care and safety for Australians with cognitive disabilities or impairments. It aligns with ongoing efforts to reform health care, aged care, and disability support systems across the nation.

The complete Standard and accompanying resources are available on the Commission’s website here.

 

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