Big changes to Emergency Department to Improve Services for Patients
Five new local doctors will be appointed to the Emergency Department (ED) of the Broken Hill Health Service to improve the experience for all patients as well as the efficiency and sustainability of the service.
As of July 2021, the five new doctors will cover the clinical demands on the Fast Track service in the ED, which itself will be incorporated into the core operations of the ED.
'We are streamlining and enhancing the service by integrating the separate Fast Track clinical service into the main Emergency Department,' said Dr Tim Smart, A/Director Medical Services, Far West LHD.
Fast Track service is a clinical component of the Emergency Department of the hospital and tasked with attending to non-critical patients. This service is currently operated by a third party provider who at times is not able to provide medical practitioners. During these times patients are seen by one of our clinical staff to ensure that the needs of the community are met. Although this model served us well over the years, we believe the changes being introduced will further enhance the quality of services provided.
Engaging five local GPs to work as medical practitioners in the ED (four sourced from practices within Broken Hill) to provide extra coverage will boost the efficiency and sustainability of the service. They will be integrated into the ED, enhancing ED operations when required.
'We are using local GPs instead of a contracted service flying them in from out of town (as locums),' said Dr Smart. 'They live and work here and one of them is an emergency medicine specialist GP. We are tapping into a medical workforce already in town and their ongoing presence in the ED will improve the continuity of care provided to our community.'
The Far West LHD is also boosting the ED medical staffing with an extra senior doctor every day including weekends, said the Director of Emergency Medicine FWLHD, A/Prof Alan O'Connor.
'This will improve patient outcomes as the most urgent cases will still be seen quickly, and at the same time, patients with less urgent medical problems can continue to be seen by the second doctor,' said Dr O'Connor.
Dr Smart said the impetus for the changes was to ensure the highest quality of care continues to be provided to those when needing it.
'These are significant changes for our ED and we are confident the public will experience improved outcomes, though they may not be immediately noticeable.'
Other improvements to the ED include the recent appointment of a Patient Experience Officer (PEO). This is a non-clinical role focused on supporting waiting room patients, especially during busy periods. The PEO will greet everyone coming into the ED with a welcoming smile and do everything they can to help make them as comfortable as possible during an often challenging time. Also implemented has been making triage and patient registration quicker, ongoing care instructions after discharge, free Wi-Fi and mobile charging stations.
Aboriginal patients are also benefiting from the presence of Aboriginal Health Practitioners based in the Emergency Department. The practitioners are focussed on providing sensitive and accessible services, including for those patients seeking mental health support.
'We will be continually reviewing and assessing the impact of all of these improvements to the Emergency Department, including consumer feedback to help us improve and ensure we are providing the best care and experience for our patients, families and carers,' said Dr Smart.