Public hospitals in St George and Sutherland Shire carried out more elective surgeries during the December 2020 quarter than the same period the previous year, as the health system tackles delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, Sutherland Hospital increased its elective surgery case load by more than 40 per cent - much higher than the overall increase rate achieved by NSW public hospitals.
NSW Health announced this month that public hospitals performed a record number of elective surgeries in the final quarter of 2020, with more than 62,000 procedures, according to Bureau of Health Information.
NSW Health said this was the highest number of elective surgical procedures ever performed during an October-December quarter, as NSW Health continues to tackle delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and suspension of all non-urgent and most semi-urgent surgery.
A South Eastern Sydney Local Health District spokeswoman responding to questions from the Leader said St George Hospital performed 1426 elective surgery procedures during the last quarter of 2020 - an increase of 6.4 per cent on the same period in 2019.
This equated to an additional 86 procedures.
"100 per cent of its urgent elective surgeries were performed within the clinically recommended timeframe over the October to December 2020 quarter," she said.
The spokeswoman said Sutherland Hospital performed 887 elective surgeries in the December 2020 quarter - an increase of 40.6 per cent compared with the same period in 2019.
This equates to 256 extra procedures.
"98.6 per cent of urgent cases were performed on time and 97.4 per cent of semi-urgent cases received their surgery within the clinically recommended timeframe," she said.
"Urgent cases increased by 16.7 per cent, semi-urgent cases increased by 37.3 per cent and non-urgent cases increased by 44.9 per cent, compared [with] the same period in 2019, as the hospital worked to redress the delays in some surgeries due to COVID-19 restrictions."
NSW Health deputy secretary Nigel Lyons said surgical activity increased by almost 8 per cent compared with the same period in 2019.
"While we still have lots of work to do, we have continued to reduce the number of people on the waitlist while maintaining our important COVID-19 measures and preparedness across our public hospitals," Dr Lyons said.
"Critically, 99.8 per cent of those people requiring urgent elective surgery in NSW had it performed on time."
Since March 2020, the NSW government has committed more than $3 billion to increase the capacity of the health system, including $458.5 million to fast-track elective surgeries.
The SESLHD spokeswoman said the $385 million stage 3 upgrade of St George Hospital announced by the NSW government in February 2019 would see the creation of a new precinct that would include an ambulatory care unit, outpatient and day-surgery services, a new day rehabilitation unit, increased sub-acute inpatient beds and a hub for community health and home-based services.
She said the NSW government's $81.5 million redevelopment of Sutherland Hospital's operating theatre complex will include new operating theatres and procedure rooms; new surgical short stay unit and recovery unit and new central sterilising services department. A new MRI suite worth an additional $7 million has also been added to the project.
"Work on the new operating theatres is due to commence this year, with the project scheduled to be completed in 2023," she said.
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