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Gold Coast health staff, services celebrated for five-year achievements

30 July 2021

A five-year snapshot of Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service 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.

“We also have a high number of patients spending long periods of time in hospitals while they wait for aged care or disability packages, leading to significant impact on availability of hospital beds. Importantly, hospital is not an appropriate alternative to home or a residential care for the most vulnerable in our society who deserve better.

“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 Gold Coast HHS’s hard-working staff and the health services for these achievements.”

Gold Coast Health Chief Executive Ron Calvert says every month he sees dozens of examples of Gold Coast Health staff going above and beyond to serve the Gold Coast community and its visitors.

“We operate Australia’s busiest emergency department and are focussed on ensuring that the sickest people are seen quickly,” said Mr Calvert.

“We also have seen significant growth in elective surgery and outpatient demand and our team has been working very hard to minimise wait times.”

Between 2015-16 and 2020-21 Gold Coast HHS’s hospitals reported:

  • 66 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (from more than 161,380 to more than 268,600)
  • 31 per cent increase in surgeries performed (from more than 20,890 to more than 27,500)
  • 94 per cent increase in outpatient appointments (from more than 357,870 to more than 696,090)
  • Continued to deliver more than 5,500 babies each year, including private facilities in the region.

In the same period, Gold Coast HHS’s annual operating budget had increased from $1.19 billion to more than $1.69 billion, a 42 per cent growth.

The HHS’s total workforce has grown from 7,292 to 8,945 people (a 22 per cent increase), including 989 to 1,232 doctors, 3,044 to 3,941 nurses and 151 to 232 midwives.

Quarterly performance data for Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service has been released today, available on the website here.

Last updated: 30 July 2021