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Townsville health staff, services celebrated for five-year achievements

30 July 2021

A five-year snapshot of Townsville 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 Townsville HHS’s hard-working staff and the health services for these achievements.”

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said he couldn’t be prouder of the health service over the past year-and-a-half.

“The spotlight has been on health like at no other time in history and our communities have looked to us for guidance, support and care,” he said.

“Across our catchment we have continued to provide outstanding healthcare to individuals, families and communities across the breadth of service delivery in what have been very uncertain times.

“This includes emergency care, surgical, cardiac, paediatric, maternity, mental health and medical services for thousands of North Queenslanders.

“We have also responded to the pandemic by standing up testing and vaccination clinics to keep our community safe.”

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

  • 11 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (from more than 115,180 to more than 127,550)
  • 18 per cent increase in surgeries performed (from more than 11,380 to more than 13,490)
  • 39 per cent increase in outpatient appointments (from more than 264,870 to more than 369,680)
  • Delivering more than 2,500 babies each year.

In the same period, Townsville HHS’s annual operating budget had increased from $804 million to more than $1.09 billion, a 35 per cent growth.

The HHS’s total workforce has grown from 5,191 to 5,577 people (a 7 per cent increase), including 629 to 736 doctors, 2,079 to 2,217 nurses and 170 to 201 midwives.

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

Last updated: 30 July 2021