Planning statewide services


The Audit Office is of the view that:

  • there is no system wide plan for the location of emergency departments. This function is undertaken by each Area Health Service

  • coordination between the Department and the NSW Ambulance Service could be improved in aspects such as the collocation of facilities and direct communications between ambulances and emergency departments

  • there is no policy framework that recognises the increasing role and impact of private providers

  • the Department’s guidelines do not take into account demographic factors, the number of patients treated or the acuity of presentations as criteria for determining the size of an emergency department or the level and scope of emergency services that should be available at that location.

  • the Department has introduced a range of initiatives over a period of time to improve the performance of emergency departments such as the establishment of the Integrated Bed Management Committee. Some have been quite effective, whilst others have had mixed success. There has been an overall improvement in emergency department waiting times for urgent cases. However, there has been little improvement in waiting times for less urgent cases and a decline in performance for access block (the time taken to be admitted to a hospital ward from the emergency department after a decision has been made that this is required).


Parliamentary reference - Report number #54 - released 21 October 1998