Media release

Aboriginal people rate their experiences of care in NSW hospitals


The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has today released a report on Aboriginal people’s experiences of care in emergency departments and as admitted patients in NSW public hospitals.

The Snapshot report, Aboriginal people’s experiences of hospital care, reflects the experiences of care of more than 1,000 Aboriginal people who responded to BHI’s Emergency Department Patient Survey 2017–18 and Adult Admitted Patient Survey 2017.

BHI Chief Executive, Dr Diane Watson, said that, overall, the percentage of Aboriginal patients rating their care as ‘very good’ or ‘good’ was 81% for emergency departments and 89% for hospital admissions. However, when the survey findings were compared with those for non-Aboriginal patients, significant differences emerged in some areas.

When experiences of emergency department care were compared across 62 measures for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients, results were similar for 32 measures, with Aboriginal patients reporting significantly less positive experiences for 29 measures and significantly more positive experiences for one measure.

“The most pronounced differences in emergency departments were for measures of respect, interactions with patients’ families, and the monitoring of patients’ conditions while they waited,” Dr Watson said. “For example, 75% of Aboriginal patients said they were always treated with respect and dignity, compared with 85% of non-Aboriginal patients.”

When it came to experiences of care as admitted patients in NSW public hospitals, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients reported similar experiences for 36 of the 64 measures, with Aboriginal patients reporting significantly less positive experiences for 26 measures and significantly more positive experiences for two measures.

Dr Watson said Aboriginal patients reported significantly less positive experiences of care in the areas of respect, communication with patients, and interactions with patients’ families.

“For example, 65% of Aboriginal patients said doctors always explained things in a way they could understand, compared with 76% of non-Aboriginal patients.”

Building on today’s release, BHI and the NSW Centre for Aboriginal Health are working together to collect information from far more Aboriginal people about their experiences of care in NSW public hospitals, which will provide more detailed information and insights for the healthcare system.

“For the first time, every adult patient who identifies as Aboriginal is being invited to provide feedback on their admitted patient or maternity care experience during 2019,” Dr Watson said.

“These results will provide the NSW healthcare system with additional, valuable information about what they are doing well and where they can improve care to better meet the needs of Aboriginal people.”

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Page updated: 16 Jul 2019
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