The state’s healthcare system matches or outperforms comparable systems on 80 per cent of measures, however the delivery of services to poorer areas disadvantages residents whose health indicators are already below par.
Further, NSW patients have a higher rate of post-surgical complications, long waiting times for cataract and knee and hip surgery (especially in lower socioeconomic areas). The median wait time for cataract surgery was 222 days, ranking NSW 15th out of 16 countries reviewed, including the US, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Germany.
In terms of value for money, the worst offender was the knee arthroscopy procedure, deemed clinically ineffective for 70 per cent of recipients.
On the positive side, ED waiting times in the state’s public hospitals have improved and nearly all elective surgery is being done within benchmark times.
However, 15 per cent of patients are being readmitted to hospital psychiatric units within 28 days of discharge.
The data was released in the Bureau of Health Information’s Healthcare in Focus 2016 report How does NSW compare?.
The latest annual snapshot is based on 140 indicators and places NSW results, where possible, in an international or national context.
It includes a range of quantitative information as well as patient feedback on their perceived quality of care - more than 70 per cent felt they were ‘definitely’ involved with clinical decisions.
A higher proportion of NSW patients than their counterparts in other countries said they were treated with respect. However, 32 per cent of new mothers said they received conflicting advice about feeding their babies, and 18 per cent of ED attendees said they received contradictory information about their condition or treatment.
“Healthcare in Focus 2016 shows that overall, NSW continues to perform well,” writes Dr Kim Sutherland, Acting CEO of the BHI.
“In recent years there has been significant progress across the state in the timeliness of care and patient-centredness. However there remain important areas for improvement – for example, in effectiveness and safety outcomes such as rates of post-operative complications… [and] we continue to see significant disparities in health and healthcare provided to different socioeconomic and community groups.”
Patients from low socioeconomic status groups had “less positive experiences of care”, the report noted.