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Health News

Northern NSW emergency departments rated highly for care and cleanliness

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Northern NSW emergency departments rated highly for care and cleanliness
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Northern NSW emergency departments rated highly for care and cleanliness

Patients have rated Northern NSW Emergency Departments (EDs) among the best in NSW, according to the latest Bureau of Health Information (BHI) report which surveyed 77 of the bigger public hospitals across the state.
Results from the 2019-20 Emergency Department Patient Survey released today show that patients attending Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) EDs continue to report high levels of satisfaction with their experience, health staff and facilities.
Most patients, 78 per cent, in the District reported being triaged within 15 minutes of arriving, the highest in the state.

The overall ratings of care by patients in the District were among the highest in the state, with 91 per cent of surveyed patients rating their care as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.
Patients rated ED staff highly with 93 per cent of patients rating the treatment provided by the ED health professionals as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
NNSWLHD Emergency Departments also recorded high scores when it came to cleanliness, with 82 per cent of respondents saying the treatment area was ‘very clean’, the highest result in NSW for the second consecutive year. Byron Central Hospital recorded the highest rating of all NSW public hospitals for cleanliness with a 95 per cent result.

NNSWLHD Director of Clinical Operations, Lynne Weir, said the survey period included the emergence of COVID-19 in NSW in early 2020 which resulted in significant changes to the way health services were delivered.
“I want to commend our staff who continued to deliver outstanding results for our patients during a very challenging time for health services around the world,” Ms Weir said.
“It takes a dedicated team to deliver the quality experiences and outcomes our patients and the community expect, and these results are indicative of our commitment to patient care and to continuous improvement.
“For the second consecutive year, we achieved some of the best triage responses in the state and, importantly, we also rate among the top health districts for patient care measures.
“For example, our hospitals recorded excellent results when it came to asking patients if they felt they were able to get assistance or advice from ED staff for their personal needs, and 84 per cent said health staff ‘always’ explained things in a way patients could understand.”

A number of hospitals delivered improved results when compared with the previous year, with Ballina District Hospital in particular achieving significant improvements in 26 survey measures, including 99 per cent of surveyed patients reporting that they had confidence and trust in the ED health professionals treating them.

“These surveys are essential sources of information to help us identify gaps and develop plans to improve patient experiences at our hospitals,” Ms Weir said.
Between mid-2012 and mid-2020 the Northern NSW Local Health District increased its workforce by an additional 1008 full time equivalent staff – an increase of 26.7 per cent – including 171 more doctors, 367 more nurses and midwives, and 121 more allied health staff.

The 2020-21 budget for Northern NSW Local Health District was more than $926 million – an increase of almost $39 million, or 4.4 per cent, on the 2019-20 budget.
The record 2020-21 NSW Health statewide budget of $29.3 billion includes $30 million for additional emergency department attendances and ambulance calls and $14.5 million to recruit more temporary security staff and more patient experience officers to improve patients’ experiences in our public hospitals.

INDIVIDUAL HOSPITAL RESULTS
BALLINA DISTRICT HOSPITAL: The majority, 93 per cent, of surveyed patients rated their overall care as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Nearly all patients, 99 per cent, said they had confidence and trust in the ED health professionals treating them, the highest in the state. The vast majority of those surveyed, 94 per cent, said ED health professionals were always kind and caring and 84 per cent said they were ‘definitely’ involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care and treatment.
BYRON CENTRAL HOSPITAL: Nearly all surveyed patients, 95 per cent, said the ED was ‘very clean’, the highest rating in the state. More than 85 per cent of patients said they were triaged within 15 minutes and the majority, 80 per cent, said they would speak highly of their experience in ED to friends and family. In addition, 92 per cent rated their overall care in ED as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and 85 per cent said the staff were always kind and caring.
CASINO & DISTRICT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: The vast majority, 94 per cent, of surveyed patients said ED staff were ‘always’ polite and courteous and 87 per cent of patients said they were triaged with 15 minutes. More than 90 per cent of surveyed patients said ED health professionals ‘always’ explained things in a way they could understand and 98 per cent said their overall care was ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
GRAFTON BASE HOSPITAL: More than 85 per cent of surveyed patients said staff were ‘always’ kind and caring and the majority, 76 per cent, would ‘speak highly’ of their ED experience to family and friends.
LISMORE BASE HOSPITAL: Overall, 87 per cent rated the care they received as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Nearly all patients, 97 per cent, said they felt the purpose of medication was explained in a way they could understand by ED staff and the majority, 78 per cent, reported that staff were kind and caring.
MACLEAN DISTRICT HOSPITAL: The majority of surveyed patients, 91 per cent, rated their care in ED as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. The vast majority, 92 per cent, said they felt treated with respect and dignity while in ED.
MURWILLUMBAH DISTRICT HOSPITAL: The vast majority of patients, 93 per cent, said ED staff explained things in a way they could understand and 88 per cent said they were triaged within 15 minutes. The majority, 84 per cent, said they had confidence and trust in the ED health professionals treating them and 95 per cent rated their overall care in ED as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. In addition, 93 per cent of respondents said the ED treatment area was ‘very clean’.
THE TWEED HOSPITAL: Overall, 90 per cent rated their care as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. The majority, 85 per cent, said they felt treated with respect and dignity and 78 per cent said they were triaged within 15 minutes.
The survey is available on the BHI website.

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Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

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Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

 

Should You Consider Self-Insurance? Plus Other Tips to Save!

Consumer group CHOICE has found that many Australians faced significant increases in their health insurance premiums in April, with some premiums rising as much as 17%—far higher than the annual average industry-wide price increase of 3.03%.

“CHOICE reviewed the prices of over 24,000 policies with hospital cover and found Gold policies had the highest premium increases, with average increases above 10% for HBF, HCF, HIF, and Australian Unity policies. One Gold policy in Western Australia even saw a 17% hike,” said CHOICE health insurance expert Jodi Bird.

“With these sky-high increases, it’s worth taking the time to review your health insurance to ensure you’re only paying for what you need, and that you’re getting it at the best possible price,” Bird added.

CHOICE’s Top Tips for Saving on Your Health Insurance

  1. Drop Gold Hospital Insurance

“Gold hospital cover has become too expensive. If you have a specific condition usually covered by Gold policies and want to use the private hospital system, look for a Silver Plus policy or consider self-insurance.”

Self-insurance is an alternative to private health insurance. Instead of paying an insurer, you save money yourself to cover private health costs as they arise. If you don’t need any health treatment, your savings will grow.

“We have found that in some cases, opting to self-fund your health care can be the better-value option,” Bird explained.

For example, cataract surgery, one of the most common surgical procedures in Australia, is often only covered by the most expensive Gold policies. CHOICE’s analysis showed that the annual cost of top-cover health insurance could exceed the out-of-pocket cost for a private cataract procedure.

“This option may only be suitable for people who have few health issues and do not anticipate any unexpected health events. And of course, you need to ensure you have the money set aside in case you require a surgical procedure or treatment in the private system,” Bird advised.

  1. Compare Policies to Find a Good Deal

“We always recommend comparing policies to find the best value policy to suit your needs. The same cover with a different insurer may save you hundreds of dollars a year. Look beyond the well-known big funds and consider smaller funds; switching to a smaller fund often provides a cheaper deal,” said Bird.

“If you’re unsure where to start, CHOICE has an independent health insurance comparison tool that allows you to compare thousands of policies from over 40 insurers,” Bird suggested.

  1. Do You Need Extras Insurance?

“The value of extras insurance really depends on the individual. It can be worth purchasing, but only if you use it enough that it pays out more than the premiums that are coming out of your pocket,” Bird noted.

“If you need extras insurance, shop around and buy your extras from a different provider than your standard hospital cover if you find a better deal,” Bird recommended.

Compare health insurance policies here: CHOICE Health Insurance Comparison Tool

 

For more health news, click here.

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Health News

NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

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NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

 

People aged 65 and over are being strongly urged to book their free influenza vaccine as respiratory illnesses continue to rise across NSW.

The latest NSW Health Respiratory Surveillance Report, released today, indicates a rapid increase in influenza activity in NSW, with COVID-19 transmission also reaching high levels.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant reported a 27% increase in influenza notifications and a 23% increase in COVID-19 notifications for the week ending 25 May compared to the previous week.

“While everyone aged six months and over is urged to get their influenza vaccine as soon as possible, it is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe illness from the virus,” Dr. Chant said.

“Influenza immunisation rates aren’t where they need to be. Less than half of people aged 65 and over in NSW have received their influenza vaccine this year. We really need to see that number go up, especially as people in this age group are among those most at risk of severe illness.

“We expect the number of influenza cases to quickly increase in the weeks ahead, so now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so.”

The influenza vaccine is free and readily available for those at higher risk of severe illness from influenza. It is available through GPs for any age group and through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) Infectious Diseases Paediatrician Dr. Phil Britton noted that influenza notifications are increasing across all age groups, particularly among young children aged three to four years.

“In recent weeks, we have seen influenza cases rising among young children. The best thing parents can do to keep their kids well this winter, and reduce the risk of them being hospitalised due to influenza, is to ensure their children receive a flu vaccine,” Dr. Britton said.

Free Flu Vaccination Eligibility:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, severe asthma, kidney, heart, and lung disease

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others from Respiratory Viruses:

  • Stay up to date with recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • Gather outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 or influenza
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including regular hand washing

For more information and to book your vaccination, visit your local GP or pharmacy.

 

For more seniors news, click here.

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Mental Health Service Boost in Coffs Harbour with Opening of Medicare Mental Health Centre

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Mental Health Service Boost in Coffs Harbour with Opening of Medicare Mental Health Centre

 

Communities in and around Coffs Harbour will soon benefit from increased mental health support with the opening of a Medicare Mental Health Centre in late June. Healthy North Coast, which delivers the North Coast Primary Health Network program on behalf of the Australian Government, announced today the selection of local not-for-profit organisation Open Minds as the service provider for the new centre.

Monika Wheeler, CEO of Healthy North Coast, emphasised the importance of accessible mental health services. “It is estimated that 43% of Australians will experience mental health distress at some point in their lives. It is vitally important we have a range of mental health services that are easily accessed in times of need,” she stated.

The new centre will offer free, walk-in mental health services with no appointments or referrals necessary. This model is designed to provide immediate and tailored support to individuals in need. Wheeler highlighted the success of a similar initiative: “Our Lismore Centre, also run by Open Minds, opened in 2022 and has delivered over 9,000 sessions and supported more than 1,000 people. We’re confident that the Coffs Harbour Centre will be a welcome addition for residents looking for a tailored experience and connection to the right support for them and their circumstances, which are different for everyone.”

Rik Barker, General Manager of Integrated Mental Health Services (NSW) at Open Minds, welcomed the announcement. “We look forward to opening the doors in Coffs and delivering a quality mental health service, improving the wellbeing of people on the Mid North Coast,” he said.

Key Features of the New Centre

  • Staffing: The centre will be staffed by mental health and allied health professionals available to visitors based on their level of need. There will also be a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Worker for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, in partnership with Galambila Aboriginal Health Service.
  • Location and Hours: The centre will be co-located with the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre in Block B of the Community Village, 22 Earl Street, Coffs Harbour. Initial hours of operation will be 8 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, with provisions for targeted/appointment-based services for up to four hours on Saturdays.
  • Accessibility: Residents can visit the centre without prior appointments, and services are free of charge.

Wheeler explained the community’s enthusiastic response to the new centre, noting its welcoming space and easy accessibility. She also encouraged those unable to visit in person to utilize the free Head to Health service by calling 1800 595 212 for phone-based support.

Additional Information

  • Crisis Services: The Medicare Mental Health Centres are not intended for crisis or emergency services. For urgent support, individuals should contact Lifeline at 13 11 14 or the Mental Health Access Line at 1800 011 511. For immediate help or if at risk of harm, calling 000 is advised.

For more information and updates, visit here.

 

For more Coffs Harbour news, click here.

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