Emergency Department Taskforce meets to tackle wait times

NSW’s Emergency Department (ED) Taskforce met this week, bringing together clinical experts from across the state to improve wait times in the state’s busy EDs.

NSW EDs are under continuing pressure, with more than 3 million attendances each year, and treating more patients with serious illness than ever before.

The new Taskforce will work to ensure NSW hospitals continue to deliver timely, high-quality care to the people of NSW now and well into the future.

The Taskforce will focus on enhancing models of care and adapting workforce models across the entire hospital to improve timely access to treatment in EDs. It will also consider ways to reduce avoidable ED attendances, improve patient flow, and boost inpatient capacity through early and supported discharge from hospital where clinically appropriate.

The Taskforce will meet monthly and will be co-chaired by Clinical Director, Emergency Care Institute, Agency for Clinical Innovation, Dr Trevor Chan and NSW Health Deputy Secretary, System Sustainability and Performance, Adjunct Professor Matthew Daly.

The NSW Government is also embracing a suite of innovative initiatives to divert unnecessary presentations to hospitals and relieve pressure on GPs.

This includes:

•  rolling out 25 urgent care services across the state,

•  empowering pharmacists to prescribe certain medications,

•  increasing the use of virtual care, and

•  making it easier for doctors in regional health districts to work in both GP and hospital settings.

The Taskforce will regularly engage with workers and their unions on this important priority.

“I’ve got to be honest – people are waiting too long in emergency departments,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said.

“I’ve visited emergency departments, met the hardworking staff in our hospitals. They do an incredible job day in and day out. 

“We’ve seen good early signs when it comes to elective surgery. I want to see the same results for emergency department wait times.

“Rebuilding our healthcare system will not happen overnight, but by removing the wages cap and implementing safe staffing in NSW hospitals we can start to turn things around.”

Health Minister Ryan Park said the NSW Government is committed to doing everything possible to improve the experience of care for patients and better support our dedicated frontline health staff.

“This Taskforce is one part of the NSW Government’s comprehensive strategy to address ED wait times. We are also committed to delivering 25 Urgent Care Services by mid-2025, allowing communities to access urgent healthcare in a timely way and avoid unnecessary trips to the ED,” he said.

“We are tackling issues we have right now with this Taskforce, but also looking to the future so we can continue to innovate and adapt to meet the growing health needs of our communities.

“This Taskforce will look at opportunities to streamline and deliver treatment in more strategic ways, so the people of NSW receive the best possible care.”

Clinical Director, Emergency Care Institute, Agency for Clinical Innovation, Dr Trevor Chan, said he looks forward to working with colleagues from across the health system who will bring their skills and experience to the Taskforce to make a real difference in our EDs.

“We will aim to develop strategies that will improve how our EDs function, support frontline healthcare workers, and improve the experiences of care for our patients,” Dr Chan said.

“By bringing together expert senior clinicians from a range of disciplines with this new taskforce, we can generate new ideas and solutions to support the healthcare workers in our busy EDs and the patients they care for,” NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce AM added.