Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has released a major report to address lengthy ramping times and overcrowding across the state’s hospital emergency departments.
· From January 1, 2013, no hospital will have authority to divert ambulances to another hospital
· Senior-level nurses will be introduced into waiting rooms of all major EDs
The report commissioned by Queensland Health made 15 recommendations, all of which will be implemented by the government.
From January 1, 2013, hospitals will be banned from going on "bypass" when their emergency departments become full.
To reduce the risks for patients waiting to be seen, senior nurses will also be introduced to waiting rooms of major Emergency Departments (EDs).
Patients would also never be allowed to return to the back of an ambulance after they are assessed in the hospital and await a bed. While waiting for a bed, they should be taken off the stretcher and allocated a dedicated treatment space close to ED staff, said the report.
Patients must also be handed over from ambulance staff to hospital staff within 30 minutes of their arrival.
Springborg said bypassing was an unacceptable way to manage ED demand and once the new arrangements are implemented, it will be “a thing of the past.”
"Addressing ambulance ramping and hospital bypass requires a 'whole of hospital approach’ to improving the flow of patients through the entire facility, not just the emergency department,” Springborg told reporters.
"These recommendations will make those changes happen."
The report was commissioned by Queensland Health and prepared by David Rosengren, a Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital emergency physician.
In the last few years, there had been a 62 per cent increase in paramedic lost-hours time due to ramping, with 1315 days lost as a result of ramping longer than 30 minutes in 2010/11.
The 9-month investigation said between July 2008 and July 2011 there had been on average an annual increase in attendances in Queensland's 27 largest EDs, as they cope with the state's growing and ageing population.
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