Volume Ten 2011 Focusing on Health

The Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat, today released his Volume Ten Report to Parliament for 2011. The report includes comments on financial audits of government agencies in the Health sector.

Ambulance Officers spending more time waiting at emergency departments (pg 48)

‘In 2010-11, Ambulance Officers spent an extra 77,200 hours waiting at emergency departments for patients to transfer to hospital care. In 2009-10, it was 58,400 hours’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘This excludes the first 30 minutes of waiting time for each admission. I am concerned that so many ambulance officers are unavailable to respond to other emergencies. More needs to be done to address this unfavourable trend’, he added.

Hospital admission performance deteriorates (pg 22)

‘In 2010-11, only 66 per cent of patients were moved from the emergency department to an inpatient bed within eight hours of their arrival’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘This is significantly down on last year’s 73 per cent and well below the 80 per cent target’, he added. 

While elective surgery waiting lists have increased the number of people overdue is down (pgs 23 & 24)

‘In 2010-11, over 90 per cent of elective surgery patients were treated within the clinically desirable times and the number of overdue patients decreased significantly to just 145 at 30 June 2011. While overdue patients are down, the total number of people on the elective surgery waiting list at 30 June 2011 increased by 1,378 to 68,195’, Mr Achterstraat said.

Processes for paying Health suppliers and employees need to improve (pgs 14 & 45)

For the second year, I have recommended that Health Support Services and local health districts improve processes for paying suppliers and employees.

‘Some payments to suppliers have been made without approval exposing local area health districts to financial loss’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘Health Support Services and local health districts need to agree on who should check approval signatures to ensure payments are properly made’, he added.

Outstanding debts are up (pgs 12, 13 & 14)

At 30 June 2011, the health sector’s outstanding debts to suppliers increased by over 15 per cent to $699 million, up from $606 million at 30 June 2010.

‘At 30 June 2011, supplier invoices that are more than 45 days old increased to $34.7 million up from $28.7 million. Nearly $7 million of these are more than six months old’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘While many of these are in dispute, the health services should promptly review and clear these invoices’, he added.

Overtime payments show a steady decline but there are still some large payments (pgs 32 & 33)

Overtime payments are down from $341 million in 2009-10 to $327 million in 2010-11, average overtime payments fell from $5,909 to $5,369 and the percentage of employees receiving overtime is down from 62 to 42 per cent.

‘There are over 1,200 employees who worked more than 500 hours overtime in 2010-11, with one employee paid $333,073 in overtime’, Mr Achterstraat said.

Low cash reserves at local health districts (pgs 11 & 12)

‘The NSW Ministry of Health continually provided funds to assist the local health districts clear their debts on a timely basis’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘At 30 June 2011, some districts did not have enough cash reserves to cover one day’s activities. While I recognise that once a week, districts receive their subsidy funding from the Ministry, this is a perilous position to be in’, he added.

Further information

Barry Underwood, on 02 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au