Hospitals under pressure

5 Oct 2021

Dr Kim Hansen Ramping Roundtable Chair

Transcript: AMA Queensland Ramping Roundtable chair, Dr Kim Hansen, 4BC Breakfast with Neil Breen, Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Subjects: AMA Queensland Ramping Roundtable; hospital readiness for COVID-19

NEIL BREEN:    My guest is AMA Queensland Ramping Roundtable chair, Dr Kim Hansen. Good morning to you, Dr Hansen.

KIM HANSEN:  Good morning Neil. Please call me Kim.

NEIL BREEN:    Okay Kim, I’d love to do that. I want to start from the start. So, yourself and the other emergency doctors and all sorts of people have had to do this yourselves and you’ve got your own Ramping Roundtable. Why did you feel the need to start those talks?

KIM HANSEN:   We can see the pressure that the hospitals are under right now. It’s been building over the past 12 months and we can see that we’re not going to cope if we have a COVID outbreak up here in Queensland.

NEIL BREEN:    So, building over the last 12 months – are we talking about people who need help, heart attacks, broken legs, you know, collapsed at home – are those types of things already putting so much pressure, leaving COVID right out of it?

KIM HANSEN:   Yeah, absolutely. So numbers of patients presenting to emergency departments have gone up 10 to 20 per cent in a lot of hospitals around the state, and that’s without COVID. So the emergency departments are full, and hospitals are full, and we just don’t see how we’re going to manage if we have to deal with a COVID outbreak as well.

NEIL BREEN:     We’re not doctors and we don’t work in the system, but we read the stories and journalists present their stories and people tell their stories and we can’t understand how it got to this. Can you possibly put a finger on how we got to this stage? Or are you focused on getting us out of this stage?

KIM HANSEN:   I think we’ve had an increase in patients without an increase in doctors, nurses, and beds. And so we’re now at the stage where the inn is full, essentially. You could say we haven’t kept up, but really this is an unprecedented demand over the past 12 months. So it’s time for action now so we can try and be ready for when we do open up, and there will be COVID cases in the community.

NEIL BREEN:    We see the situation in New South Wales and Victoria, so basically let’s say a month – for a month they’ve had 500 to 1,500 cases a day in Sydney and Melbourne, and if that happened here, let’s say Brisbane, metropolitan Brisbane, for one month had 500 cases a day, what would happen?

KIM HANSEN:  Ah, we would just be overwhelmed. You know, we would see what we see in Melbourne and Sydney, which is queues of ambulances outside hospitals. When you call triple zero, and no-one’s going to come soon because they’re all at the hospital. When there’s tents and marquees outside the emergency departments because there’s not enough room inside. You see COVID patients just stuck in the emergency department for hours and days because there’s not the beds free up in the hospital, and you’d see every ICU bed full of COVID patients and patients needing that ICU treatment but not being able to get in there. It really is a sad, sad situation down there.

NEIL BREEN:    Would people die that didn’t have to? Say if this was going on and I, Neil Breen, at 52 years of age, has a heart attack in Cannon Hill where I work in the morning, would my life be under threat because the hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID?

KIM HANSEN:   Yeah, absolutely. That’s what we’re seeing overseas, is that people with non-COVID conditions can’t get into the hospitals to get the treatment they need.

NEIL BREEN:    My special guest is Dr Kim Hansen, AMA Queensland Ramping Roundtable chair. Do Queensland Health listen to the doctors? Do you feel you’re being listened to? Kim, you work in several emergency departments, you’re there in the frontline. Do you get listened to?

KIM HANSEN:  Look, I feel that AMA Queensland and Queensland Health have a good relationship and I believe Queensland Health do respect their doctors and their other staff. But we have a very narrow window of opportunity now, we’ve only got a matter of months before we’re going to have to open up, and that’s what we need to prepare for now.

NEIL BREEN:    So these Roundtable meetings that are taking place, is it today? I got a bit confused over the public holiday.

KIM HANSEN:   It’s on Thursday. It’s a group of AMA Queensland members and doctors from varying specialties around the state, so not just Brisbane but also regional areas. We’ve got psychiatrists, surgeons, physicians, emergency doctors. We’re just bringing together the best heads that we can to create solutions, essentially.

NEIL BREEN:    Is the Government invited to this meeting, or you’re going to go back to them to say this is what we think you need to do quick smart?

KIM HANSEN:   We would love Queensland Health to attend our meetings.

NEIL BREEN:    They’ve been invited?


NEIL BREEN:     Have they ever attended?

KIM HANSEN:   Not so far.

NEIL BREEN:     Okay. Never bothered to attend, hey?

KIM HANSEN:   Not so far, but the invitation’s there.

NEIL BREEN:    Okay. Dr Kim Hansen, I think you just said it all at the very end – they’ve never bothered to attend. Best of luck with that meeting, thanks for all you do to keep Queenslanders safe.*

KIM HANSEN:  Thanks Neil.

*N.B. - Queensland Health have been invited to attend Ramping Roundtable meetings and have been supportive of AMA Queensland's efforts. We continue to keep Queensland Health informed of our progress.  

5 October 2021


Published: 5 Oct 2021