Skip links and keyboard navigation

Darling Downs health staff, services celebrated for five-year achievements

30 July 2021

A five-year snapshot of Darling Downs Health highlights the achievements of hospitals and staff in managing significant increases in emergency department presentations and surgeries.

Queensland Health Director General Dr John Wakefield said several factors, including population growth, aging population, falling private health insurance rates, and more recently, the global pandemic, were responsible for the high demand on health services.

“COVID-19 has had a severe impact on our hospitals in the past 18 months,” Dr Wakefield said.

“Whilst we have been successful in minimising community transmission of COVID-19, it was necessary to divert significant staffing into our public health response, testing, tracking and tracing, hotel quarantine, and mass vaccination”.

“There has also been a continued surge in demand for public health services over the past five years, including an extraordinary rise in emergency department presentations and referrals to specialist outpatient services”.

“We are also performing more surgeries as the state’s rate of chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes and heart disease goes up. A growing number of Queenslanders are also ditching their private health insurance and turning to the public health system for treatment.

“While we have significantly increased funding and hired more staff to support both our pandemic response and the everyday delivery of healthcare, it’s no secret the pressure placed on our facilities has been immense.

“In spite of the constant pressure of dealing with unstoppable demand growth, our staff work 24/7 and do an amazing job in providing world class healthcare to all Queenslanders, no matter where they live.

“I commend and celebrate Darling Downs HHS’s hard-working staff and the health services for these achievements.”

Darling Downs Health Chief Executive Dr Peter Gillies said that these results wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of our staff.

“Our frontline teams work hard to find efficiencies and innovations to support the increase in demand for our services. This includes changing and evolving the way we provide care, increasing our capacity where we can, and promoting high-value care.

“Particularly during the pandemic we have reinforced our position as an agile health workforce that can shift priorities to accommodate the services our communities need.”

Between 2015-16 and 2020-21 Darling Downs HHS’s hospitals reported:

  • 32 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (from more than 131,710 to more than 173,740)
  • Eight per cent increase in surgeries performed (from more than 8,380 to more than 9,010)
  • 42 per cent increase in outpatient appointments (from more than 187,180 to more than 267,550)
  • Continued to deliver more than 3,000 babies each year, including in private facilities in the region.

In the same period, Darling Downs Health’s annual operating budget had increased from $638 million to more than $901 million, a 41 per cent growth.

The health service’s total workforce has grown from 4,027 to 4,854 people (a 20 per cent increase), including 361 to 493 doctors, 1,726 to 2,100 nurses and 103 to 151 midwives.

Quarterly performance data Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service has been released today, available on the website here.

Last updated: 30 July 2021