Geelong's health system responds to flu

Geelong region's hospitals and paramedics are rising to the challenge of record demand caused by a busy flu season, the latest performance data shows.

Across the state, ambulances recorded the best ever response for the quarter, despite responding to more than 8,500 extra Code 1 emergency patients than the same quarter a year earlier.

In the City of Greater Geelong, ambulances arrived within an average of 11:07 minutes during the June quarter – an improvement compared with 11:09 for the same period three months prior.

The data shows 84.4 per cent of Greater Geelong’s Code 1 ambulances arrived within 15 minutes – better than the 83.9 per cent the previous quarter.

In Queenscliffe, ambulances arrived within an average of 14:54 minutes – an improvement on the 16:07 for the same quarter last year.

Ambulances are also turning out to more emergencies. In Greater Geelong, ambulances responded to 3719 Code 1 calls, up on the 3523 call-outs in the previous quarter.

Across the state, hospital emergency departments saw nearly 32,000 extra patients compared with the same quarter last year.

University Hospital Geelong treated 100 per cent of its Category 1 emergency patients immediately upon arrival at the hospital. The hospital also:

• Reduced its elective surgery waiting lists to 1251 patients – down from 1420 the previous quarter
• Operated on more than half of Category 1 urgent elective surgery patients within 13 days – well under the 30-day benchmark
• Treated more than half of all elective surgery patients within 33 days – one day faster than a year earlier
• Treated 95.9 per cent of all elective surgery patients within the recommended benchmark times – an improvement of 2.6 percent on a year earlier
• Completed more than half of all transfers from ambulances to the ED within 20 minutes – well under the benchmark target of 40 minutes.

The busy flu season has put enormous strain on our nurses, doctors and paramedics. Already, there have been more than 40,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza across the state, including 10,000 children and more than 70 deaths.

The state government says it is stepping up its fight against the flu, making the flu vaccination compulsory for frontline staff in hospital wards.

The government is working with health experts, unions and hospitals on new rules that ensure nurses, doctors and other staff are fully vaccinated against a host of diseases, including the flu.

High-risk areas such as Intensive Care Units, Neonatal Intensive Care Units and cancer wards will all become areas staff must be vaccinated. Workers who refuse to be vaccinated will be redeployed to other parts of the hospital.

Health workers need to be protected to minimise the chance of passing flu and other illnesses to vulnerable patients, particularly the elderly and the very young, who are more susceptible to major complications.

Source: Based on a state government media release.