Hospital shows up poorly in tables

05:33, Nov 23 2009

Wait times at Wellington Hospital's emergency department have left the district health board languishing as the country's third-worst performer.

Targets set by Health Minister Tony Ryall in July in an attempt to improve health boards' accountability are published today. They compare New Zealand's 21 health boards across six categories.

Capital and Coast District Health Board failed in emergency department results in the inaugural quarterly performance review, taking 19th place.

The target was for 95 per cent of patients to be admitted, discharged or transferred from an emergency department within six hours. Only 67 per cent of Wellington emergency patients received this level of care.

Wellington Hospital head of emergency medicine Peter Freeman said he was "naturally embarrassed" by the figure. "It represents a poor service to the department. It's not good enough."

He was "fully supportive" of the ministry targets and said a timeline of two years to reach them was reasonable. "You can't set targets and say, `Take your time'."

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Board spokeswoman Sandra Williams said the targets would take time to bed down to ensure accuracy in collecting and reporting figures.

"Our DHB has been extremely busy over the first quarter of this year, with an exceptional number of patients over the winter period presenting with conditions such as swine flu and seasonal flu.

"This has been coupled with a general and marked increase in the total number of patients coming into the hospital, particularly through the emergency department."

Four hundred more turned up at the emergency department in June than in the same month last year – an increase of about 10 per cent.

Mr Ryall said the tables provided measurements to focus boards, managers and health staff on improving performance in priority areas for patients.

"Public scrutiny helps improve performance and accountability. That is why, for the first time, we are letting people know how their DHBs are doing in key areas."

The ministry expects many DHBs to take up to two years to achieve the 95 per cent target.

In other results, more than half of DHBs achieved or exceeded elective surgery targets, while shorter waits for radiation treatments were achieved by all but three boards.

Dr Freeman said the opening last week of a medical and assessment planning unit should shorten emergency waits. "I would be surprised if we don't improve enormously."

Hutt Valley DHB acting chief executive Michael Hundleby said Hutt Hospital's ED and elective surgery performances were "exceptional when its acknowledged lack of capacity was taken into account". Hutt Valley ranked 13th in ED stays.

SIX MAIN TARGETS: Emergency Departments: Ninety-five per cent of patients admitted, discharged or transferred within six hours.
BEST: West Coast 100pc; Wairarapa 98pc, Tairawhiti 94pc, Hutt Valley 83pc, MidCentral 75pc, Hawke's Bay 73pc, Capital and Coast 67pc;
WORST: Waitemata 61pc Elective Surgery: Increase volume by an average of 4000 discharges a year.
BEST: Auckland 116 per cent; Wairarapa 104pc, Tairawhiti 103pc, MidCentral 102pc, Capital and Coast 100pc, Hutt Valley 97pc, Hawke's Bay 84pc;
WORST: Otago 6pc (under-reported due to changed reporting system)
Cancer treatment wait times: Everyone needing radiation treatment to have it within six weeks of first specialist assessment by the end of July 2010, and within four weeks by December 2010.
All DHBs except Canterbury (97pc), MidCentral (97pc) and Nelson Marlborough (96pc) achieved 100pc. Increased immunisation: Eighty-five per cent of two-year-olds fully immunised by July 2010, 90pc by July 2011 and 95pc by July 2012.
BEST: South Canterbury 94pc; Hawke's Bay 91pc, Capital and Coast 88pc, Hutt Valley 87pc, MidCentral 76pc, Tairawhiti 75pc;
WORST: Lakes 65pc Quitting smoking: Number of hospitalised smokers provided with advice and helped to quit rising to 95pc by July 2012. (September data only:)
BEST: Wairarapa 86pc; Tairawhiti 27pc, Hawke's Bay 23pc, MidCentral 14pc, Capital and Coast10pc;
WORST: Hutt Valley 2pc Better diabetes and cardiovascular services:
BEST: Taranaki 79pc; Wairarapa 77pc, Hutt Valley 76pc, Tairawhiti 68pc, Hawke's Bay 68pc, Capital and Coast 67pc;
WORST: Whanganui 56pc

The Dominion Post