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It’s time to celebrate – we’ve sustained the acute six hour target

Waikato Hospital’s Jo-Anne Deane says two weeks sustaining a health target is all about quality of care and patient flow through the hospital.

Since 8 October, Waikato District Health Board’s four hospitals have bettered the target of 95 per cent of patients being admitted, discharged or transferred from an emergency department within six hours.

Over the weekend of 12 and 13 October, Waikato Hospital’s emergency department maintained a 100 per cent record

It’s early days in the second quarter of the target and sustaining that level is going to continue to be a challenge, says Ms Deane.

“But I really think this partnership model we have with primary care, Midlands Health Network, St John, emergency physicians and the clinical staff right throughout the hospital, has made the difference,” she said.

Since the target’s introduction in 2009, Waikato DHB has struggled to get to 95 per cent. That first report, which included Waikato and Thames hospitals, saw 67 per cent of patients admitted, discharged or transferred. While that continually improved, the best quarter performance was 92 per cent in quarter three of 2011-2012.

From 1 July this year, the target now also includes Tokoroa and Taumarunui hospitals.

A recovery plan aimed at getting Waikato DHB through to 95 per cent put more emphasis at the front of the house in the emergency department.

“We asked ourselves, is it appropriate for someone to wait more than six hours in an emergency department? The answer of course is no. This is a quality marker for how we treat our patients,” said Ms Deane.

The front of house approach, led by nurse manager Linzi Birmingham-Donlan and charge nurse Rachel Dobson, is paying dividends, she said.

“They’ve taken control at the front and assessed patients and streamed to appropriate destinations including Primary Options and primary care.”

Primary Options, also known as Primary Options for Acute Care, gives general practice access to a range of funded community, diagnostic and logistical services to help treat patients with acute illnesses in the community and reduce the number of referrals to hospital. Midlands Health Network launched it in September last year.

Ms Deane concedes presentations to Waikato Hospital’s emergency department have been slightly down in the last fortnight coupled with improved bed availability.

“But that’s not the major reason. We honestly believe we’re seeing the start of a fundamental shift. Rachel’s background of emergency care and her more recent experience of working in primary care in the region is helping us immensely.

“It clearly demonstrates the network of her local knowledge. Put that with our front of house changes, we are really starting to see the initial assessment and streaming of patients working.

“We are assessing patients and treating them in an appropriate location – it’s all about timely and appropriate care,” said Ms Deane.

“This has been and will continue to be a real team effort by everyone at Waikato DHB,” said Ms Deane.

ENDS

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