We hear our members loud and clear – Emergency Departments are bursting at the seams, ambulances are ramping for hours at a time, patients are waiting long hours to be treated, emergency staff are working excessive hours – and we’ve acted on your behalf.
AMA Queensland has formed a 10-member Ramping Round Table of emergency specialists, surgeons and doctors from across the state to develop a roadmap out of the emergency department ramping crisis.
AMA Queensland President Professor Chris Perry said the group hoped to work with Queensland Health to start implementing the recommendations.
“The health of our communities depends on taking a fresh approach,” Professor Perry said.
“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.”
AMA Queensland has raised the issue throughout the year, but we began in April by launching a media campaign and raising the issue in our regular meetings with Queensland Health Minister the Honourable Yvette D’Ath MP.
The media release Overloaded hospitals are a ticking time bomb stating, “Queensland doctors say public hospitals are at crisis point, with clogged Emergency Departments, too few beds and an exodus of burnt-out staff”.
AMA Queensland Ramping Roundtable Chair Dr Kim Hansen, added her expertise and insights to the campaign.
Dr Hansen said it was the worst emergency doctors had seen, explaining there had been a surge in patients this year and that most hospitals didn’t have the staff nor the beds to cope with.
Dr Hansen conveyed the desperate situation where hard working doctors were doing their best but falling short in treating urgent, very ill and injured patients in a timely manner.
In our information to media, we explained that emergency is often the indicator of larger problems within the health system.
In one of many interviews, Dr Hansen said to Channel 7 News Wide Bay, “I believe Queensland emergency departments have been under resourced for a number of years, if not decades now.
“We can’t cope with the volume of patients who are now coming through.
“We are often treating patients in corridors or in waiting room chairs or on ambulance trollies, rather than in a treatment space,” she said.
Dr Nick Yim, AMA Queensland Councillor and Wide Bay GP added, “It’s not due to coronavirus, it’s not due to the common flu season, what we’re seeing, especially in Wide Bay, our population is getting older.”
President Professor Chris Perry OAM wrote an opinion piece for The Courier Mail, where he said the chronic shortage of hospital beds in Queensland had become a political hot potato.
He commented, “Before we prise open Treasury’s purse we need to know how hospital beds are being used and who is using them.”
It was recently reported that 30,000 people had moved to Brisbane from interstate, a statistic that might give some insight into the many reasons why our health system is struggling.
In response to our campaign, the Queensland Government announced $100 million would go to delivering 65 new beds to cope with “unprecedented demand”.
While we welcomed any recognition of and support for this problem, we described the funding as a drop in the ocean and said that it was a “small step towards fixing a $3 billion problem”.
In our media release issued on 11 May, Dr Hansen commented, “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.
“Queensland needs a five-year ED action plan to get us out of this mess,” said Dr Hansen.
The Ramping Round Table will develop a clear timeline for recommendations for Queensland Health including short, medium and long-term goals.
27 April - 7 News Wide Bay: Australia's peak medical body says hospitals across Queensland are a 'ticking time bomb'
11 May - 9 News Queensland: Ambulance delays take more lives
11 May - 7 News Brisbane: South East Queensland hospitals in crisis mode
19 June - 7 News: Electives surgeries cancelled as bed shortage continues
19 June - Courier Mail: Doctors meet to fix hospital ED wait time emergency
27 April - Media release: Overloaded hospitals are a ticking time bomb
27 April - Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter post: Dr Kim Hansen talks with media about the emergency crisis
27 April - Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter post: Overloaded hospitals are a ticking time bomb
11 May - Media release: Doctors plan roadmap out of ramping
11 May - Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter post: Doctors plan roadmap out of ambulance ramping
12 May - Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter post: Professor Chris Perry addresses dire ramping situation
18 June - Latest news: Big ideas to fix hospital bed block
19 June - Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter post: Dr Kim Hansen on ramping roundtable