Hospitals in St George and Sutherland Shire are seeing an influx of COVID-19 patients, resulting in long delays for some services, including radiology and pathology.
St George Hospital in particular has seen a big influx of COVID patients, which is having a flow-on effect to other parts of the hospitals, leaving some patients waiting weeks for urgent test results.
A source told the Leader at least 90 and as many as 130 COVID patients are being cared for in hospitals in South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) at this time, with at least 60 believed to be in St George Hospital.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association said large numbers of COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals and intensive care units were putting an "incredible strain on those" in our public hospital system.
It is also resulting in delays throughout the hospital system.
The family of a Sutherland Shire child who underwent a brain MRI at St George Hospital waited more than two weeks to receive results.
Doctors told the family the delay was the result of pressures on the radiography department, which must complete the report.
One doctor told the family all services were struggling with capacity in most metropolitan Sydney hospitals right now, including St George.
For weeks, St George Hospital, located in an LGA of concern, has been dealing with an influx of critically-ill COVID patients requiring radiography.
Staff must prioritise the reporting on the radiology for the critically unwell COVID patients, meaning other reports are falling behind.
And the situation is expected to get worse as hospitalisations continue to rise in line with daily COVID cases now expected to hit 2000 cases a day sometime this week.
Both the Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard have admitted the public hospital system is under pressure, and have warned the worst is yet to come, with COVID hospitalisations not set to peak until October or November.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association, which represents more than 73,000 nurses and midwives across the state, said its members were shouldering the burden of the pandemic in a bid to hold the health system together.
The union recently accused Mr Hazzard of "continuing to deny the fact our hospital system is at risk of reaching a breaking point".
"The fact is, in addition to the increased stresses of COVID-19, nurses and midwives are dealing with a significant reduction in staffing from forced isolation and redeployment of nurses to COVID-19 vaccination hubs, testing clinics and quarantine hotels," the union said.
"Every day, as case numbers continue to rise, nurses and midwives are putting themselves and their families at risk, without enough support to do their jobs.
"Nurses and midwives are fatigued, burnt out and feel unsupported at work.
"The current workloads are unsustainable."
A SESLHD spokeswoman responding to questions from the Leader said all local health districts throughout NSW had "well-developed workforce surge and hospital demand management plans in place", which were calibrated over the past 20 months.
"There has been an increase in the number of people requiring hospitalisation across NSW in the past month due to increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections," she said.
"However, every patient who requires care, for any condition, is treated and prioritised according to their clinical need.
"The district's pandemic plan is regularly reviewed to ensure our health services are prepared for possible surge in activity.
"Should any health facility in our district come under strain, the NSW hospital system is interconnected, which ensures we can safely transfer or redirect patients to other hospitals where necessary, including private hospitals.
"SESLHD, which includes St George and Sutherland hospitals, remains committed to delivering high-quality care to all our patients."
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