There were mixed results in the recent patient survey published by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) with Shoalhaven District Hospital performing well in nurse quality but patients at both Milton and Shoalhaven Hospitals expressed concern over food quality.
In the BHI survey, conducted in 2019, there were 486 responses from patients at Shoalhaven Hospital and 68 from patients at Milton Ulladulla Hospital.
Shoalhaven Hospital performed well and showed improvement in its nursing quality, 93 per cent of patients said "yes, always" that nurses were always kind and caring, 89 per cent said "yes, always" to having confidence and trust in the nurses and 82 per cent said they would rate the nurses who treated them as "very good".
Shoalhaven Hospital also performed well in the survey when patients were asked about making accommodations around discharge and arranging services for patients leaving hospital.
Food quality continued to be a concern for patients. Only 11 per cent of Milton Ulladulla Hospital patients surveyed rated the food as "very good", it was 16 per cent for Shoalhaven Hospital. The BHI did issue caution about small data sets from hospitals like Milton Ulladulla.
Concerning given the current pandemic, although not unique to Shoalhaven Hospital, is that only 51 per cent of respondents said "yes, always" when asked "did you see doctors wash their hands, or use hand gel to clean their hands, before touching you?". The state average for doctors was 52 per cent and for nurses 65 per cent.
Both cancer outpatients centers in the region continued to rate well on the patient survey. 91 per cent of Shoalhaven patients said they would rate the overall care was "very good", for Milton Ulladulla it was an impressive 98 per cent.
Shoalhaven Hospital Group general manager Craig Hamer said the Ilawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District was always keen to hear from patients about the way they deliver care and services.
"It is pleasing to see Shoalhaven Hospital's nursing staff and discharge processes received such high results," Mr Hamer said.
"We are committed to continuing to improve access to care and patient flow by streamlining processes and implementing strategies to target times of peak demand.
"Our discharge planning commences early in a patient's admission to hospital and often involves the engagement of many services in the hospital and community to ensure patients are safe when they leave and have the services required to support them at home."
The health district has also recently employed two Patient Experience Officers at the emergency department at Shoalhaven Hospital.
On hand hygiene, the health district said they regularly conducted audits of staff and were consistently above 80 per cent.
"Hand hygiene audits are conducted regularly across all of our hospitals, and includes observational assessment of 'five moments of hand hygiene' - before touching a patient, before a procedure, after a procedure, after touching a patient and after touching a patient's surroundings," he said.
"In the internal audit results for Shoalhaven Hospital hand hygiene is consistently above 80 per cent, however education, training and awareness campaigns for staff are ongoing."
HealthShare NSW Food Services said staff take great pride in caring for patients by making sure they receive the nutrition they need during their hospital stay and said in 2017 Milton Hospital food services transitioned to My Food Choice.
"My Food Choice is a more personalised way of serving patient meals in NSW public hospitals and uses technology to cut the time between ordering and receiving meals to under four hours," a spokesperson said.
"Patients also receive a pictorial menu for ordering and can select from up to 18 hot meal options at lunch and dinner.
"HealthShare NSW is committed to achieving a more "patient-centred" model of food services for public hospitals across NSW. To support this, HealthShare NSW has initiated Project CHEF to look at ways to improve the patient meal experience."