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Torres and Cape health staff, services celebrated for five-year achievements

30 July 2021

A five-year snapshot of Torres and Cape 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.

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

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Beverley Hamerton said the health service had performed well over the past five years in managing increased demand for services whilst still delivering quality and timely care.

“Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in our regional population, as well as increases in the number of FIFO workers working on numerous natural resource and other development projects in our area,’ she said.

“From time to time, these workers will access health services in our region, just like our resident population and we are happy to provide them with the same quality and timely care.’’

Ms Hamerton said the health service also had worked hard over the past five years to develop and expand primary health care services and the availability of specialist telehealth assessments throughout the region.

“The aim of primary health services is to look after people and prevent them reaching the stage where they might need surgical intervention or other in-hospital complex care,’’ she said.

“In addition, a significant expansion in our telehealth specialist assessment services also contributes to reducing the need for surgical interventions.

“For instance, a specialist may be able to assess a patient via telehealth and recommend a program of physiotherapy to overcome a condition rather than progressing straight to surgery.

“The success of our primary health care and telehealth specialist assessment programs has contributed to the reductions we have seen in the number of surgical interventions across our health service over the past years.’’

Between 2015-16 and 2020-21 Torres and Cape HHS’s hospitals reported:

  • 44 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (from more than 18,120 to more than 26,160)
  • Continued delivering more than 300 surgeries each year.
  • 91 per cent increase in outpatient appointments (from more than 38,720 to more than 74,060)
  • Continued delivering more than 100 babies each year.

In the same period, Torres and Cape HHS’s annual operating budget had increased from $179 million to more than $240 million, a 34 per cent growth.

The HHS’s total workforce has grown from 880 to 1,060 people (a 20 per cent increase), including 30 to 47 doctors, 296 to 350 nurses and 17 to 24 midwives.

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

Last updated: 30 July 2021