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New initiatives help Sunshine Coast Health adjust to increasing demand for services

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An unprecedented number of people have requested help at the Sunshine Coast’s main emergency department.

An average of 330 patients a day presented to Sunshine Coast University Hospital’s emergency department in December.

Meanwhile, more than 56,500 people attended all Sunshine Coast Health emergency departments between October and December, which is 4 per cent more than the same period in 2022.

Related story: Toenails, hiccups and sunburn clogging emergency departments

Sunshine Coast Health issued a media release stating that all Category 1 patients were seen within two minutes, while across all five categories the median wait time was 15 minutes.

There was also a 24.9 per cent increase in the number of elective surgery patients treated from October to December (3385), compared to the same period last year, while elective surgery long wait lists reduced by 65 per cent compared to the same time in the previous year.

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A new model of care called STREAM was implemented at the SCUH emergency department in June, which has significantly improved patient flow. The model could be rolled out in other emergency departments.

It complements the new purpose-built command centre located at the SCUH, which has been operational since September and uses real-time data and modelling to monitor and coordinate patient arrivals, admissions and departures.

The Sunshine Coast University Hospital emergency department.

Sunshine Coast Health chief executive Dr Peter Gillies praised staff for accommodating the influx.

“Our emergency departments are busier than ever before, and our staff are doing a fantastic job in meeting the increasing demand for our services,” he said.

Local health services came under fire last year but Dr Gillies said the new initiatives were making a difference.

“With the continued focus on improving patient flow, we have seen initiatives like interim care beds, optimisation of virtual care, and our transfer initiative nursing models make an impact on supporting the people coming through our busy emergency departments,” he said.

“We have made excellent improvements in our elective surgery waitlists, and this is reflected in a 24 per cent increase in the number of patients receiving elective surgery.”

“As always, I want to thank our dedicated Sunshine Coast Health clinicians and support teams for the work they do to provide high-quality person-centred care.”

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