Rebounding from Pandemic

Moving beyond the intense response at the heights of the COVID pandemic, the 2022/23 financial year saw the Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) re-establish its core services and look at ways of improving delivery of healthcare outcomes to its patients.

“We’ve managed to come out of the COVID era, and we’re starting to look ahead,” FWLHD Chief Executive Brad Astill said.

The most remote of the 15 Local Health Districts in NSW, in 2022/23, FWLHD staff attended to 23,271 Emergency Department presentations (up 10.74 per cent on 2021/22), 8448 total admissions (up 8.07 per cent), and 135,716 non-admitted patient services (down 12.18 per cent), performed 1777 surgeries (up 10.37 per cent), and delivered 184 babies (down 12.8 per cent).

“We’ve had a successful financial year in terms of managing our budget and managing our finances. We’ve still got ongoing challenges in getting enough staff for the district, and that’s a key focus for us. But I guess equally, we’ve provided high levels of care, safe care, quality care, and we feel we service our community very well in that respect.”

The FWLHD scored 8.21 on the overall patient experience index for Emergency Department patients (NSW Health Target of 8.6), while the patient engagement index shows similar scores of 8.18 for admitted patients and 7.54 for Emergency Department patients (NSW Health Target of 8.5).

FWLHD Acting Chair – following Andrew Refshauge standing down in July –, Sally Pearce said the performance of the district’s 14 facilities and 822 staff throughout the last 12 months was something to be proud of.

“The teams have had a particularly difficult three years during COVID where even at times when it seemed like not much was happening, there was enormous amounts of planning and preparation going on in the background to come out of that intense program,” she said.

“Some of our staff have been tired and exhausted, but all of them, I think, have lifted as we’ve come back into more normal operations. Watching them bring our facilities back to operating in normal ways and then build on what they’ve learnt during COVID to enhance the quality of care and services we’re providing, really has been amazing to see.”


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