With the start of Winter, hospitals across the region have again boosted staff numbers and put in place additional measures for the busy period.
Scott McLachlan, Chief Executive of Western NSW Local Health District, said extra staff have been employed across the District for the Winter period, including extra staff in the Patient Flow Unit to help handle increased transport of patients between the District's 38 facilities.
“The winter months are a busy time for any hospital and our focus is always to ensure our patients are seen as quickly as possible," Mr McLachlan said.
We have extra staff on board to help meet peaks in demand and to ensure we're covered if our own workers fall ill."
To further ensure health staff keep on top of patient demand, the District invested $1.65 million in additional staff and systems to monitor and manage patient numbers.
This new measure allows staff to monitor patterns of patient admissions so they can predict when they may need to open additional beds to help avoid delays.
The Local Health District experienced a significant rise in demand in the 2017 winter period. From July to September alone, 33,859 people presented to emergency departments across the District, an increase of nearly 3,400 people or 11 per cent on the previous year.
Mr McLachlan reminded the community to visit their GP for treatment of less serious illnesses to ensure emergency departments are freed-up for emergencies.
“To help take the pressure off the emergency department and to provide better services for non-emergency patients, the District will continue to use Hospital in the Home services – a system of care which allows for people to be treated at home and kept out of hospital," he said.
The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs in 2017-18. This includes $3.5 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.75 million immunisation and influenza prevention campaign.
The District has been working with the Primary Health Network and Residential Aged Care Facilities to help them prepare and educate staff and patients about preventative measures to stay healthy during Winter.
Western NSW Local Health District has strongly encouraged its own staff to get their flu shots and so far more than 3,600 staff have been vaccinated.
NSW Health has made the flu vaccine mandatory for staff who work in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and cancer, transplant, neonatal and birth/labour wards in the state's public health facilities, to protect our most vulnerable from the flu.
Annual vaccination is the best protection against the flu, but the following steps also help prevent the spread of influenza:
o Cough and sneeze into your elbow
o Clean your hands
o Stay home when sick.