Ambulance ramping escalates
AMBULANCE ramping at Perth hospitals has continued to escalate, with patients waiting to access emergency departments for more than 180 hours on Monday.
Ambulances were ramped at Midland Hospital for 15 hours on Monday.
Opposition health spokesman Sean L’Estrange said hospitals across Perth were under stress.
“We had Health Minister Roger Cook defending 168.7 hours of ambulance ramping last Tuesday, the third worst in seven years; this week we’re seeing an even worse situation, with 180.6 hours of ramping at Perth hospitals on Monday,” he said.
“Patients who arrive at our state’s hospital emergency departments by ambulance are patients in need of priority care and clearly our hospitals are not being resourced sufficiently to provide that care.
“By anyone’s definition, hospitals that are unable to take patients arriving by ambulance are hospitals under stress.”
Mr Cook said an increase in influenza-like presentations at public hospitals, coupled with a lack of Federal funding for agedcare beds, was placing extra pressure on hospitals.
“August and September are the most critical months for pressure on our emergency departments, so it’s not surprising the system is under pressure during this period,” he said.
“I have spoken to the Department of Health and the chief executive of each of the health service providers has been asked to work on this area.
“It’s worth noting and commending some of our smaller hospitals which are doing very well, particularly Peel Health Campus, but some other hospitals are struggling.”
Mr Cook said with four weeks to go of the recognised winter peak season for emergency department attendances, people were urged to take advantage of out-of-hours GP clinics and urgent-care clinics to help divert patients away from emergency departments.
“Once we get through this difficult phase we will start hitting the summer months again,” he said.
But Mr L’Estrange said Mr Cook could not continue to blame the annual flu season.
“In July, this Government took a warning shot across its bow when data revealed that none of our major public hospitals were achieving the nationally agreed target of clearing 90 per cent of patients through an emergency department in under four hours,” he said.
Mr Cook said strategies to cut ramping included reducing bed-lock to get a better flow of patients through the hospital system.
“We need to make sure that patients who are in our hospitals at the moment because they are too old or frail to return home have a suitable aged-care system to transition into,” he said.