Home杭州桑拿 › NSW hospitals: Ambulance response times slow as overtime bill increases

NSW hospitals: Ambulance response times slow as overtime bill increases

One doctor from western NSW was paid more than $500,000 in overtime over a three-year period.A NSW doctor has earned more than $500,000 in overtime over the past three years, according to an audit, in what doctors say is symptomatic of a hospital system at bursting point.

The Auditor-General’s report, released on Tuesday, also shows ambulance response times for life threatening incidents are at their slowest in five years, and bottlenecks at the emergency department doors are getting worse.

Meanwhile, the number of people who made unplanned readmissions to hospital was rising.

Labor health spokesman Walt Secord said the report was “damning” in terms of ambulance services.

“This all stems from bed block,” Mr Secord said.

“If there’s not a bed available, then people wait longer in the emergency department and they wait longer outside hospital in an ambulance to get into the emergency department.

“Then they are rushed out of hospital before they are fully recovered, resulting in higher readmissions due to infections.”

The top three overtime earners were Sydney registrars whose base salaries of $112,725 were eclipsed by overtime claims of up to $178,871.

But the report also found that four career medical officers were consistently claiming overtime of more than $120,000.

One of these doctors, from western NSW, pulled $503,496 in overtime over three years, while the others all earned more than $440,000 in overtime, which included the time they charged when they were on call and asked to come into work.

The report said NSW Health had introduced a new roster system to help minimise the number of employees required to work back-to-back shifts, but raised concerns about the impact of the long hours on staff and patient safety.

“Overtime is paid at a premium rate and, if not effectively managed, can result in higher costs and work, health and safety issues, particularly when fatigued employees perform high-risk tasks,” the report said.

NSW Ambulance had the highest overtime bill, which accounted for 28 per cent of its salary and wages expense.

“This is attributed to employee award provisions, the nature of its operations and the number of staff on call, particularly in rural areas where there is not enough staff for a 24 hour roster,” the report said.

Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the reason overtime had blown out in the ambulance service and response times were getting slower was chronic under-resourcing.

The report showed ambulance response times had drawn out to 11.2 minutes in 2014-15, up from 10.8 minutes the previous year.

The service needed at least 600 more paramedics, Mr Hayes said.

“It’s not difficult to see that if you don’t have enough staff, you don’t have enough resources,” Mr Hayes said.

“The response times blow out and overtime is going up.”

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said strategies to improve ambulance response times included teams that would take over from paramedics at the hospital so ambulances could be released back to the streets.

“Our Transfer of Care performance rose from 84.2 per cent in October 2014 to 88.8 per cent in October 2015, an increase of 4.6 percentage points,” Mrs Skinner said.

n Medical Association NSW president Saxon Smith said doctors were increasingly being asked to do overtime because of the stretched hospital system and a shortage of staff in rural areas.

“It ties in with readmission rates popping up, which is scary, and the triage times continuing to drift out,” Dr Smith said.

“The system is really starting to crack around the edges.”

Across NSW, 7 per cent of patients made an unplanned readmission to hospital within 28 days, up from 6.8 per cent last year, and drifting further from the state target of 5 per cent.

Comments are closed.