Southern ED targets static in past quarter

Despite record successes at other health boards, Southern District Health Board's (SDHB) emergency department targets remained static in the past quarter.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said more than 95% of health boards achieved the target of 95% of patients being admitted, discharged and transferred from emergency departments within six hours, between January and March this year.

The departments were treating patients faster than at any time since the national health targets were introduced in 2009.

The target was a measure of the efficiency of flow of urgent patients through public hospitals and home again.

"This is what you get when doctors, nurses and their teams work more efficiently together. EDs are a barometer of how a whole hospital works and the only way to reduce ED waiting times is if the rest of the hospital works in sync with ED."

However, SDHB remained unchanged from the previous quarter, with 89% of patients flowing through in that target time, placing it 19th out of the 20 boards.

A board spokesman said one of the contributing factors was the "significantly" higher number of patients visiting ED, compared with the same time last year.

About 7% more patients were visiting and 14% more were being admitted, which created "blockages" throughout the hospital.

Solutions were being sought, though, with an observation unit due to open this year, and training with emergency specialist Prof Mike Ardagh to find solutions to improve ED throughput was carried out last week.

SDHB was also below target in providing better help for smokers to quit. The target was that, by July this year, 95% of smokers in hospital would be helped to quit. The board only achieved 87%.

The board did perform better in the access-to-elective-surgery target, achieving 103%, compared with 101% in the previous quarter.

The target, of 100%, was an increase in the volume of elective surgery by an average of 4000 discharges per year.

Nationally, 111,794 elective surgeries were performed by the boards, 5% ahead of target.

The board was achieving the shorter-waits-for-cancer-treatment target, and the national-immunisation target for 2-year-olds.

The health target results also included provisional data on the new heart and diabetes checks goal.

The SDHB achieved 43%, compared to the 60% target, to have eligible people's cardiovascular risk assessed within five years by July 2012. The target would increase in stages to 90% by July 2014.

National health targets results will be published tomorrow.



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