EMERGENCY: Bundaberg Hospital.
EMERGENCY: Bundaberg Hospital. Mike Knott BUN051016EMERGENCY4

Health service treating 13 patients every hour

ON AVERAGE 317 patients a day, or 13 every hour, are presenting at Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service hospital emergency departments, which include Bundaberg Hospital.

The figures were revealed in the WBHHS annual report for 2015-16 which showed there were 115,743 emergency presentations for the 12 months, up 0.4% from last year.

WBHHS facilities saw 391,127 outpatient appointments, 76,901 patients admitted to hospital and 27,669 cancer care appointments.

Elective surgery waiting times remain 100% within national targets and outpatient waiting times continue to improve across Wide Bay hospitals, despite record pressure on local health services.

Chief executive Adrian Pennington said, across the board, WBHHS had seen a substantial increase in the number of people receiving care at its hospitals or health services.

"The real challenge for WBHHS is ensuring this activity is sustainable, because increases in outpatients and emergency presentations put pressure on hospital admissions both medically and surgically.”

While WBHHS has maintained its strong performance despite record patient numbers, it has come at a temporary financial cost, resulting in a $14.1 million deficit for the financial year, the first time since WBHHS was established.

"Our patient activity simply outstripped our funding levels for the 2015-16 financial year, but it was important for us to maintain that level of activity so our waiting lists didn't blow out. The longer patients wait for appointments, the worse their outcomes are,” Mr Pennington said.

"Queensland Health has recognised this significantly increased demand by purchasing extra patient activity worth more than $16 million for the 2016-17 year.”

The annual report also showed there were three litigation cases brought against the WBHHS in the 12 months compared to none the year before.

Mr Pennington said every year WBHHS had hundreds of thousands of patient contacts and a tiny number pursue legal action for a variety of reasons.

"Claims made against WBHHS are managed by the Queensland Government Insurance Fund but not all of these will necessarily reach litigation stage or be paid out on,” he said.

"WBHHS's maximum exposure on any insurable claim is $20,000, meaning funding for patient care is not significantly affected by any legal payouts.”

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