MORE people attended NSW emergency departments during January to March than in any previous quarter on record, the latest Bureau of Health Information report shows.
Across the state, there were more than 750,000 emergency department (ED) attendances, an increase of 5.9 per cent from the same quarter in 2018.
Locally, there were 20,947 presentations to the John Hunter Hospital ED, up 7.8 per cent from the same time last year. The Calvary Mater Newcastle had a 10.7 per cent increase in the number of presentations, Maitland Hospital was up 9.4 per cent, and ED attendances at Belmont Hospital rose by 9 per cent.
The number of patients who were treated and discharged from the John Hunter Hospital ED within four hours had dropped to 64.7 per cent. Those treated and admitted in four hours or less dropped to 36.9 per cent, and 84.4 per cent of patients left without or before completing treatment.
"Emergency departments across the state experienced high demand during the quarter, particularly from patients triaged as emergency or urgent, while there was also a notable 10 per cent increase in arrivals at emergency departments by ambulance," BHI chief executive, Dr Diane Watson, said.
"At NSW level, the timeliness of care provided to patients has declined from last year. The results vary across hospitals - with some experiencing bigger drops than we see at NSW level, while others had stable or improved performance despite increased activity."
The report shows about seven-in-10 ED patients were treated within clinically recommended timeframes across NSW hospitals, and 70.6 per cent spent four hours or less in EDs.
NSW Ambulance also experienced a busy quarter with more than 300,000 responses, up 10.2 per cent from last year. More than 136,000 ambulance responses were categorised as emergencies and more than 6000 were life-threatening cases.
"While we did see increases in response times for the broader emergency category, the median response time for life-threatening cases remained stable at seven and a half minutes."