NSW hospitals "continue to head for disaster" with latest figures revealing more people presented at emergency departments in the lead up to Christmas in 2017 than the previous year.
Between October and December last year more than 700,000 patients attended emergency departments, a two per cent increase on the same quarter in 2016, according to the Bureau of Health Information's Healthcare Quarterly.
The number of patients arriving by ambulance also increased by 3.1 per cent to more than 150,000, the figures released on Wednesday show.
Australian Medical Association of NSW president Brad Frankum says the numbers can't be blamed on the flu season.
"We just can't keep on finding excuses for this unrelenting pressure and expecting hospitals to cope," Prof Frankum said in a statement.
"Without addressing the drivers of demand in our system, we continue to head for disaster."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian conceded there is "always room for improvement when you're dealing with a health system as large as ours".
"Of course we always strive to do better," she told reporters at Mount Druitt hospital in Sydney's west on Wednesday.
Prof Frankum told AAP the increase in people attending emergency could be partly attributed to the difficulty of seeing general practitioners for treatment.
He says the "state government needs to pressure the federal government" to increase access to, and the cost of, general practitioners.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said if necessary the government would provide funding for more staff.
Despite the increase in patients, the performance of emergency departments in responding to cases was similar to the same quarter in 2016, BHI chief executive Diane Watson says in a statement.
"NSW is maintaining - and in some cases improving - its performance on these timeliness measures, despite the ongoing increases in activity," Dr Watson said.
There was a more than 10 per cent jump in the number of life-threatening cases paramedics were called to, with 72.1 per cent of these cases reached by paramedics within 10 minutes.
Most patients who arrived by ambulance had their care transferred to emergency department staff within 30 minutes, while 76 per cent of emergency department patients had begun treatment within the recommended time frames from their arrival.
Australian Associated Press