EDs a drag on meeting targets

Patrick Ng. Photo: ODT files
Patrick Ng
Beleaguered emergency departments have dragged down the Southern District Health Board’s performance in meeting national health targets.

Health Minister David Clark recently scrapped the national health targets, but district health boards and the Ministry of Health had been collating the data for the 2017-18 financial year.

Some of that information was released yesterday.

It showed that in five targets the SDHB was consistently near, at, or even above the national target.

However, in "Shorter stays in emergency departments", the board consistently failed to meet the target, that 95% of patients be admitted, discharged or transferred from an ED within six hours.

In the first quarter it achieved that with only 85.2% of patients, before improving to 92.1% in the second.

However, things slid back again in the third quarter, to 89.6%.

Southern DHB specialist services executive director Patrick Ng said it was important space be freed up in the ED so clinical teams could focus on new patients, knowing earlier admissions were being looked after.

"A steering group has been established to look at opportunities to improve flow, and our broader initiative  will take a more comprehensive look at acute patient flow as part of a wider set of changes we are hoping to make.

"This is not about resources, but about a whole-of-system approach."

Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming was pleased the SDHB had made "important gains" against the remaining health targets, and praised the efforts of staff.

"We met the faster cancer treatment target for the first time, with 90.2% of patients receiving treatment within 62 days of referral, and we continued to show significant gains in the raising healthy kids target, exceeding the target and reaching 99% in quarter three," he said.

"We were also very close to the immunisation and elective surgeries targets, and expect to see further improvements when the quarter four results are released soon."

Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield said final-quarter health target figures would be released shortly.

Work was also under way on developing new health measures, as requested by the minister.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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