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State rolls out $100 million funding band-aid to tackle hospital ramping crisis


The Queensland government will redirect $100 million in emergency funding from the health budget to increase capacity in the state’s struggling public hospitals.

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Surging demand for beds has caused a spike in ambulance ramping in Queensland in recent months.

Ramping is when patients are treated in ambulances on hospital driveways until beds become available.

More than 1.39 million people presented at hospital emergency departments between July 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, an 11.6 per cent increase over the previous period.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says the redirected funding will add 65 new beds to major hospitals in the Greater Brisbane and Ipswich regions.

“The level of demand being experienced isn’t unique to Queensland – it’s being seen in all states and territories,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Delivering this extra funding to increase bed capacity is an important first step in equipping our busy EDs to tackle the pressures they’re facing.”

The funding is “a small step” toward fixing a $3 billion problem, the Australian Medical Association Queensland said.

“It’s good to see the State Government responding but our public hospitals need innovative and effective models of care, as well as more funding,” Emergency physician and AMA Queensland member Kim Hansen said.

“Queensland needs a five-year ED action plan to get us out of this mess.”

A “ramping roundtable” including emergency physicians and inpatient consultants will be established by the AMA this month.

“We need at least 1500 more hospital beds and hundreds more staff in intensive care, mental health and general wards,” AMA Queensland president Chris Perry said

“The government must commit to long and short-term action, so our public hospital EDs aren’t stuck in this vicious cycle of crisis upon crisis.”

The Liberal National Party has been needling the Labor government for its lack of action to relieve capacity pressures in recent months.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli and health spokeswoman Ros Bates have also called for real-time data on hospital capacity and emergency department waiting times to be published online like it is in NSW.

D’Ath has previously called for the federal government to redirect some health funding to home care for aged and disability patients to alleviate capacity pressure.

She said dealing with a GP and bulk billing shortage in regional Queensland would also help alleviate pressure.

The minister said she expected Tuesday’s federal budget to ensure her state received adequate commonwealth health funding.

“Tonight I hope the Morrison government delivers the funding that Queenslanders deserve to ensure we continue to deliver the highest quality of care,” D’Ath told parliament.

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