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Operation bottleneck: Doctors form high-level team to attack ramping crisis

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While there was another half a billion dollars in the budget, some stakeholders also want reform in a bid to end Queensland’s hospital ramping crisis. Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says she “can’t stop the trauma coming in the door”.

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The record $22.2 billion health budget included $482.5 million to address pressures in patient flow through public hospitals, after a surge in emergency department presentations.

But several doctor groups, coordinated by the Australian Medical Association Queensland, are pushing for the investment to be accompanied by innovation.

AMAQ roundtable group chair and emergency physician Dr Kim Hansen said the increase in people presenting to hospital, only to potentially wait hours to go in and even days for a bed, was putting “enormous pressure on over-worked staff”.

“Hospitals need to adopt new models of care to unblock the bottle necks,” Hanson said.

AMAQ president Professor Chris Perry said “the health of our communities depends on taking a fresh approach”.

“This group has myriad ideas to fix inefficient hospital processes and systems; what we need now is leadership, funding and collaboration to turn ideas into reality,” Perry said.

Unlike previous crises, the increase in people presenting to hospital now is across all categories, which GPs believe may have its origins in people being unable to see their doctor during lockdowns last year.

The Queensland chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Dr Bruce Willett said GPs were seeing increased demand for appointments from people who might not have been active last year due to lockdowns and social distancing requirements.

Willett suggested the early impact of the pandemic on other health conditions was also being felt in emergency departments, and it was too early to know whether it would continue to snowball.

“I think it’s because that period of people not getting that preventive health stuff done,” he said.

“I think we’re seeing the fallout of that now.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath faced further questions on ambulance ramping from the Liberal National Party today, who she accused of trying to ignore the impact of COVID-19 and “once-in-a-generation circumstances”.

D’Ath said elective surgery had been delayed, only for catch-up sessions to reduce the availability of beds, which in turn prevented emergency patients being admitted.

“I can’t stop the trauma coming in the door,” the Health Minister said.

Rather than reject the need for the AMAQ to hold its own talks, D’Ath welcomed any discussion of solutions to the problem.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders – the clinicians, the nurses, health workers, the executive, board members across the state and external stakeholders like the AMAQ – to find solutions to the extraordinary pressures we are seeing,” D’Ath said.

 

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