by Anna Watson

NSW Labor has warned the public health system in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven is already at breaking point and desperately needs a massive injection of resources to cope with both the outbreak of COVID-19 and a particularly bad flu season.

Data released today by the Bureau of Health Information has uncovered the regions three major hospitals have all made the top 10 for the longest waiting times in emergency. The quarterly report also revealed worsening performances across almost every metric from ambulance response times to various elective surgery procedures.


Patients are also now waiting longer than ever before for elective surgery, with waiting lists across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven tipping 6,636 people. This is a jump of 727 or 12.3% since last year. Around 10% of patients waited more than a year for ‘non urgent procedures.’ One of the worst was cataract removal, which has an average waiting time of 314 days, up 67 from last year.



  • 45.7% of patients wait longer than 4 hours – 5th worst result in NSW

  • 10% patients waited longer than 11h 41m for emergency care


  • 38.7% of patients waited longer than 4 hours - 4.1% higher than same quarter last year

  • 10% of patients waited longer than 9 hours for emergency care


  • 43.1% of patients waited longer than 4 hours - 8.3% higher than same quarter last year

  • 10% of patients waited longer than 12h 44m for emergency care - up from 9 hours same quarter last year

NSW Labor Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said: “It is not good enough to have all three major hospitals one region top the list for longest emergency waiting times.

“What’s alarming is this data ends in December, before COVID-19 spread to NSW.

“We’re alarmed that if our hospital system was already under such strain then how well are we placed to respond to this pandemic?

“Health funding announced by the Premier is welcome but it’s too little too late given the Government cut $252 million cut from the public health system and from public hospitals this year.”

Member for Wollongong Paul Scully said: “Wollongong Hospital has recorded its highest ever number of presentations to its Emergency Department, the longest Emergency Department waiting times outside of Sydney and a new record high number of patients on the elective surgery waiting list.

"On virtually every measure Wollongong is a hospital under extreme pressure and this was before it was also managing the additional patient load associated with COVID-19.”

Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said: “Shellharbour Hospital has been in desperate need of a cash injection for some time now. We’ve seen the result of staff shortages on mental health care and now these figures show the entire hospital is struggling to cope. We need investment in health now before it’s too late.”