The increased presence of consultant staff should theoretically lead to better outcomes in emergency departments (EDs). A retrospective observational study was conducted in a tertiary paediatric emergency department (PED) over a 10-year period documenting trends in percentage of children admitted, complaints to the department and average waiting times. Consultant numbers increased from 2.6 to 6.2 full time equivalent staff between 2000 and 2004. Other staffing numbers were essentially unchanged. All parameters examined improved coincident with increasing consultant numbers. The percentage of children admitted decreased by 27%, complaints fell by 41% and the average waiting time by 15%. The yearly cost of an additional 3.6 consultants (2005) was $A1 003 490 with net saving to the hospital of over $A9.48 million. The provision of additional consultant medical staff in a PED coincided with a decrease in the percentage of children admitted, complaints to the department and average waiting times, and was cost effective.
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