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Metro North health staff, services celebrated for five-year achievements

30 July 2021

A five-year snapshot of Metro North 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.

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

Metro North Health Acting Chief Executive Jackie Hanson said significant increases in demand had been present across all of its hospitals.

“Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital, Redcliffe Hospital, Caboolture Hospital and Kilcoy Hospital have all seen increased demand, particularly across ED presentations and outpatient appointments, and I commend our staff for their hard work during this busy period,” Ms Hanson said.

“Additionally, the opening of STARS (Surgical Treatment And Rehabilitation Service) earlier in 2021 has eased some of the pressure across surgery demand at Metro North Health.”

Between 2015-16 and 2020-21 Metro North HHS’s hospitals reported:

  • 59 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (from more than 278,940 to more than 444,260)
  • 25 per cent increase in surgeries performed (from more than 38,130 to more than 47,640)
  • 100 per cent increase in outpatient appointments (from more than 598,090 to more than 1,201,840)
  • Continued delivering more than 8,500 babies each year, including private facilities in the region.

In the same period, Metro North HHS’s annual operating budget had increased from $2.17 billion to more than $3.22 billion, a 48 per cent growth.

The HHS’s total workforce has grown from 14,478 to 17,629 people (a 21 per cent increase), including 1,912 to 2,274 doctors, 5,968 to 7,226 nurses and 356 to 406 midwives.

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

Last updated: 30 July 2021