A significant increase in the number of presentations to the emergency departments of hospitals across one NSW region has been put down to the "the pressures associated with preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic".
The latest Bureau of Health Information Healthcare Quarterly report, taking in figures from April to June this year, revealed a 33.4 per cent increase in ED attendances, up by 29,545 patients to 117,950 compared to the same period last year in the the Hunter New England Local Health District.
The number of semi-urgent (triage 4) patients, compared to this time last year, jumped 46 per cent, up by 17,340, to 55,044.
HNELHD chief executive Michael DiRienzo said the second quarter of 2021 was one of the busiest NSW Health had ever seen.
"While presentations increased across the board, from non-urgent to most-urgent, we saw the biggest increase in semi-urgent patients," Mr DiRienzo said.
"This quarter's results show an increasing demand on our services ... as we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic.
"Last year, the health system experienced significant disruption, however we have continued to see high activity across all services in 2021."
There were 23,456 ED attendances at Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital, which was 5912, or 33.7 per cent, more than the same period last year.
Mr DiRienzo said he was pleased there had been a "significant increase" in the number of elective surgeries performed across the health district in the April-June period.
More than 8400 elective surgeries were conducted, up 71 per cent from the 4908 during the same period last year.
"There were more elective surgeries performed than in the January to March 2021 quarter, showing we are keeping momentum despite the continued pressures of the pandemic," he said.
"I want to acknowledge our staff who continue to work hard to support our communities and I thank everyone for their patience during periods of increased activity."