Am­bu­lance ramp­ing es­ca­lates

Hills Gazette - - NEWS - Sarah Brookes

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.

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