Maitland Hospital has returned the worst report card for triage of all Hunter hospitals.
That only half of imminent, life-threatening cases were treated within nine minutes, is expected to create renewed pressure for a second hospital.
Opposition Leader John Robertson will tour the Hunter today, six weeks out from the budget, calling for greater spending across numerous departments including health and education.
Triage services were the slowest of any hospital in the Hunter for the October-December 2011 quarter, in the latest assessment of 80 public hospitals statewide by the Bureau of Health Information.
Only 50 per cent of people with imminent, life-threatening symptoms, were seen to within nine minutes.
The clinically approved target is for at least 80 per cent of these triage 2 patients (heart attacks and burns) to be treated within 10 minutes.
Most patients (95 per cent) only received treatment within 35 minutes.
“Hospital waiting times are increasing, electricity bills and petrol prices are going through the roof, and so many Maitland families are doing it tough,” Mr Robertson said.
The health department is in the first of a four-year planning process, worth $20 million, to determine where a regional hospital should be built.
Member for Maitland Robyn Parker said that an additional Maitland hospital should not be rushed.
“I think Mr Robertson should go back to sipping his [cafe] lattes in Sydney,” she said.
“A regional hospital, based in Maitland, was never meant to be an immediate solution but a properly planned piece of infrastructure for the future.”
Between October and December last year, 2117 patients presented at Maitland Hospital with potentially life-threatening symptoms, such as moderate blood loss and dehydration.
Only half of them received treatment within 26 minutes, when the target is 75 per cent within 30 minutes.
Overall it took 115 minutes to treat 95 per cent of all patients.
Maitland Hospital emergency patients were considerably worse off than those at John Hunter Hospital.
The John Hunter emergency department treated 50 per cent of triage 2 patients within six minutes – a full three minutes better than Maitland.
Kurri Kurri Hospital treated 50 per cent of triage 2 patients within two minutes.
The NSW government is yet to commit funds for works to start on a second hospital, to ease Maitland’s growing pains, beyond the existing $20 million for planning.
Mr Robertson said the premier had failed to deliver the infrastructure Maitland desperately needed. “I want people in Maitland to know that I’ll be pushing Barry O’Farrell to lift his game and deliver a better deal,” he said.