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

A five-year snapshot of Sunshine 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.

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

Interim Health Service Chief Executive Dr Mark Waters said the past five years had seen rapid increases in demand for healthcare.

“The Sunshine Coast HHS team has done a great job in providing excellent health services in such a challenging environment,” Dr Waters said.

“Our staff come to work every day to do their best for our community. The team has worked hard and provided quality healthcare where it’s needed.”

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

  • 55 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (from more than 117,070 to more than 181,530)
  • 104 per cent increase in surgeries performed (from more than 9,510 to more than 19,430)
  • 117 per cent increase in outpatient appointments (from more than 220,500 to more than 480,050)
  • Continued to deliver more than 3,000 babies each year, including private facilities in the region.

In the same period, Sunshine Coast HHS’s annual operating budget had increased from $752 million to more than $1.31 billion, a 74 per cent growth.

The HHS’s total workforce has grown from 4,309 to 6,343 people (a 47 per cent increase), including 583 to 851 doctors, 1,674 to 2,561 nurses and 89 to 173 midwives.

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

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